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Waterloo council may set special election on funding city broadband system

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WATERLOO — A proposal to develop a taxpayer-backed municipal broadband communications system could be put to voters this fall.

The Waterloo City Council on Monday will consider setting a Sept. 13 special election on the matter. It’s one of two major decisions being discussed by the council. The other is establishing a goal for the city to be carbon-free in its electricity generation by 2050.

The 5:30 p.m. meeting is in the council chambers at City Hall.

Voters would be asked in the proposed ballot question if the city should enter into a loan agreement and issue general obligation capital loan notes for as much as $20 million to pay for all or part of a fiber optic backbone and fiber to the premise (FTTP) broadband communications system. The general obligation notes would be repaid with property tax dollars.

The backbone project will connect 100 miles of fiber optic cables to city facilities and is expected to cost $29.28 million. The FTTP project will connect broadband to Waterloo homes which is estimated at $86.38 million. The potential project has been under review by Magellan Advisorsof Denver, Colo., since January 2020.

Fiber network plan presented to Waterloo City Council

The city’s so-called Community 24x7 Carbon-Free Electricity Goal is intended to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve air quality, enhance public health, attract business, create local job growth and enhance energy security.

A resolution being considered by the council states that the city experienced the effects of climate change through high temperatures and extreme weather events like record rainfalls and flooding.

A 2018 United Nations report on climate change highlighted in city documents says in order to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius there needs to be a 45% reduction of greenhouse gasses between 2010 and 2030. That would enable Waterloo to reach a net-zero impact by 2050.

The city would do this by partnering with utilities, businesses, residents and community stakeholders to identify an approach that could achieve the emissions targets.

Waterloo kicks off Veterans Way project

In other scheduled business, the council will:

Hold seven public hearings – one of those on the demolition of five houses near downtown. A resolution that could be approved at the meeting recommends awarding a bid to Lehman Trucking and Excavating, Inc., of Waterloo in the amount of $70,521 for demolition of 928 Mulberry St., 1526 E. Fourth St., 1527 E. Fourth St., 307 Sumner St. and 335 Sumner St. Among the other public hearings are those on the Fourth Street Bridge and dam lighting project and the city’s asphalt seal coating program. Consider a resolution authorizing the purchase of BriefCam, a surveillance camera system, for $120,642. The resolution states the purchase is in conjunction with the “Smart City” project. The surveillance equipment allows video to be searchable and reviewed in minutes, enabling an immediate response to situations of concern.Consider changing to an all-way stop at the intersection of Hammond Avenue and Shaulis Road. There are currently only stop signs on Hammond.

Before the meeting, there will be a council work session on animal control operations at 4:15 p.m. The housing authority board will meet at 4:45 p.m. and the finance committee will meet at 5:10 p.m.

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