Payson To Reaffirm Vote to Join UTOPIA

Payson To Reaffirm Vote to Join UTOPIA

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PAYSON, Utah (AP) -- One more time.

Payson City Council members will vote July 7 whether to adopt the UTOPIA fiber-optic network, a decision the members thought they made last week.

The June 23 emergency meeting -- at which the council reversed itself and voted in favor of becoming a pledging member of the Utah Telecommunications Open Infrastructure Agency -- was held illegally, Councilman Brent Burdick claimed.

"It just needs to be redone and redone right," said Councilman Burtis Bills.

Burdick said he was not given 24-hour notice for the June 23 meeting, as required by state law, and he said that means the decision does not count.

He also said the meeting was held with two council members participating by telephone, disqualifying it as a viable council meeting.

"This isn't a fight between me and the city; this is just a way I can do my job to keep the taxpayers from future debt," Burdick said.

Bills changed his vote last week after UTOPIA operators offered to either lease or buy from Payson its portion of a fiber-optic line for $300,000. The line runs from Payson's Nebo power plant to Springville's Dry Creek substation.

UTOPIA also offered to reimburse Payson $45,000 in expenses associated with its feasibility study.

Burdick said he is for the city joining UTOPIA, but as a nonpledging member. He said the city does not have sufficient funds for the project.

Roger Black, UTOPIA's chief operating officer, said it intends to proceed with plans to obtain financing for the network based on the participation of the 11 UTOPIA cities including Orem, Lindon and Payson.

Of the original 18-member network, 11 cities have pledged to guarantee payment for 40 percent of the network's building costs. Three cities including Cedar Hills have voted to remain as nonpledging members, while four other cities have opted out of UTOPIA.

"We're satisfied with the decision Payson City Council reached June 23. We understand they want to take that decision to fully explain the situation to their constituents," Black said.

"If something surprises us on July 7, we'll have to rework the financing plan," he said.

(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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