August 14, 2023 at 10:37 a.m.
Franconia request for internet tabled for fund use specifics
Due to what county commissioners felt was an incomplete application —Franconia Township will not receive the $200,000 sought from the county to provide enhanced Internet service in certain township areas. A cooperative broadband installation using wireless technology was proposed in partnership with Hometown Internet.
Franconia Township supervisors had applied for $200,000 from the county’s broadband fund. The county earmarked $2 million from federal ARPA monies for broadband needs in hard-to-serve areas and grants have been awarded to facilitate Internet projects in Chisago Lake Township, Harris, and Wyoming, for example. In total, Chisago County was awarded $10.9 million in Coronavirus Fiscal Recovery funds for specified uses, through the American Recovery Plan Act.
Commissioner Rick Greene, the Franconia Township representative on the County Board, was absent from last week’s meeting. The Board didn’t want to outright deny the application, so the vote was 4-0 to continue consideration of the funding request to the regular meeting September 6.
Deadline to spend funds is December 31, 2026.
Commissioner Marlys Dunne said she needs “a lot” more information on the tower sites the wireless system will require. Plus, other applications for ARPA funds included actual addresses to be served with broadband, which this did not.
County Administrator Chase Burnham agreed that the details are relatively minimal. He added the county is actually protecting the township because if the Internet service fails to meet federal use guidelines and conditions of ARPA spending— Franconia will be on the hook for reimbursing the U.S. government the $200,000.
Township Board Supervisor Owen Kuhnly attended the meeting and said he understood the stated concerns and the township will work on the proposal details and return in September.