In 2005, when Senate Bill 152 was passed, it did not make sense for governments to expend tax dollars moving into industries the private sector was tackling. Prohibiting counties and municipalities from undercutting private industry with those tax dollars was a fair plan that was also popular with the telecom industry.
More than a decade later, that industry has had its chance. Internet providers have cherry-picked the lucrative markets and left small communities and even more sparsely populated rural areas with substandard internet services that are far from high speed. Now it is time for the public sector to step out from under SB 152 restrictions.
That is what Montezuma County and the Town of Dolores are asking voters to approve. Ballot issues 1A and 2A, respectively, allow local governments to investigate the feasibility of providing broadband services as a public utility or as part of a public-private partnership with taxpayer support for infrastructure.
That is logical, because most of us think of the internet exactly as an essential utility, right along with electricity, gas and water.
Cortez is not affected by SB 152 because it developed its fiber-optic structure before the bill was enacted, and Mancos already has opted out, as have more than 60 counties and municipalities across the state.
An opt-out vote does not obligate Dolores or Montezuma County to get into the internet business; it just allows them to investigate the feasibility of that option.
The need is obvious. County voters, vote “yes.” Dolores voters, check the “yes” boxes on both 1A and 2A.