As I have been out listening to residents in neighborhoods and meetings, I am learning about issues you are passionate about, including broadband. I hear from many of you that you want to have more voice, to let the community decide through a referendum about the future of broadband in Lakeland.
While I have shared my concerns about risks of municipal ownership, I want to be a leader who is willing to learn about issues and who can serve your needs. I believe together we can find creative solutions to respond to the broadband issue, without placing the city or taxpayers at risk. I am open to a citizen referendum, if it follows extensive education on the potential pros and cons.
Questions we would need to resolve in the process include:
Could the city meet the target subscriber base/rate to pay for the service?
How would the city protect other public services and employee paychecks from losses to subsidize broadband?
Is the state requirement to become profitable in 4 years attainable?
Is the city in a financial position to take on additional debt as technology advances and citizens require up to date services?
Have we adequately explored public-private(P3) partnerships that could provide a compromise?
Bridging the digital divide and improving access for all residents is vital for our community’s education systems, opportunities for all, and continued growth. Municipal ownership would present new challenges, as it is not part of the core business of city government. We must make sure we thoroughly discuss both the positive aspects and potential risks before taking on a new line of business.
I want to have these conversations with you, now or after the run-off election on December 3. Vote for me, and let’s work together to find a creative, workable solution.