KAYSVILLE — A plan to connect every home in Kaysville to a fiber-optic network was put on hold after opponents filed for a referendum to put the decision on the ballot.
The announcement came just days after the city council approved the creation of a fiber utility department at a tumultuous city council meeting.
Like the basic roads and buildings that keep a city rolling, Kaysville leaders have been working on connecting its city to a new fiber utility department.
“It’s not utility. This is a luxury item. I don’t need fiber to live. I need water. I need electricity,” said Nephi Harvey, a member of the Coalition for Responsible Kaysville Fiber.
The new group formed recently in response to the city’s plan to approve a $26 million bond to create and run its own fiber-optic network.
“It’s nothing short of a socialist move,” Harvey said of the plan. “It’s nothing short of taking something that’s in the private sector right now, with competition, and replacing by a government entity.”
On Tuesday, the coalition filed applications for three referendums with the city after last week’s rocky city council meeting ended in a yes vote to create a fiber utility department, despite overwhelming opposition.
“A lot of public clamor there,” city councilmember Stroh DeCaire said of the meeting, which lasted more than four hours. “A lot of people do agree that the internet and fiber optics are a utility.”
DeCaire works in fiber optics professionally and said he knows of the benefits it can bring the city.
“Economic growth. Business development. It’ll increase residents. It’ll increase home value,” DeCaire said. “Imagine having a dedicated (gigabyte) internet circuit delivered right to your doorstep. That’s a selling point.”
But last week’s meeting proved not everyone is sold on the idea, which is why DeCaire said the city is sending a form to every household in Kaysville to give them the choice to opt out of the service without paying any sort of fee.
“We’re on hold,” DeCaire said. “It gives every individual home … the opportunity to say, ‘Yes, I want this,’ or, ‘No, I don’t.”
The form to opt out of the service and the fee is currently up on the city’s website. Households have until Oct. 31 to submit that form to the city either online, by mail or at a drop-off location. DeCaire said they will then use that response to determine whether there is enough interest among its residents to move forward with the fiber utility department.
“If we’re 50.1% for, we’ll move forward,” he said. “If we’re 50.1% against, we’ll take a few steps back.”
But that wasn’t good enough for voters like Harvey.
“A house gets a vote,” he said. “Where’s that written in the constitution?”
Harvey hoped to see the question of whether to add fiber to the city’s infrastructure on the ballot, giving every individual the opportunity to choose.
“(The referendum) is going to mean a lot of work by a lot of people,” he said. “But the army’s already been marshaled. There are a lot of people ticked off.”
The coalition expected to hear back from the city on its referendums in five to 10 days. If submitted correctly, they’ll then have to gather a set number of signatures before the questions on fiber can make it onto the ballot next year.