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EPB Board Approved Ambitious Program to Put City-Owned Agency in Cable TV Business

The EPB board voted unanimously on Friday morning to approve the ambitious $210 million program that would put the city-owned agency in the cable TV business.

Harold DePriest, EPB president, said, "We've heard resoundingly - the people want this built."

He added, "This has been very extensively debated and discussed. The people are very much in support."

Mr. DePriest said 22 of 23 speakers at a public hearing were in favor, and all but six of 164 who sent comments were positive.

EPB board member Harold Coker said, "I knew the present suppliers were not well-liked, but I didn't know it was this bad."

He said, "I really believe this will be the economic generator that will make this area jump with jobs and propel this community."

Joe Ferguson, board chairman, said he was impressed with the young entrepreneurs who favor the program. He said, "They know that second-generation broadband is so important."

Mr. Ferguson said the message from the community was "this is something we've got to do. Let's get it done."

Mr. DePriest said the City Council is due to vote on the issue on Tuesday, and it will take a two-third majority for approval.

He said the City Council could decide on calling for a public referendum. He said that process would take about two years.

Mr. DePriest said if the City Council gives the go-ahead, the EPB board will vote in October on issuing the bonds. He said it then will need to go back to the City Council for approval of the bond issue.

The approval came a day after the executive director of a statewide cable TV association said in a letter that the EPB fiber optic plan is illegal and its revenue estimates are "astonishingly" off.

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