February 25, 2012

Time Warner outlines plan for Palermo

BY MARY GROW, Correspondent

PALERMO -- A Time Warner official on Thursday outlined early plans to selectmen of how the company could offer cable service to areas of town.

The town has no cable service, and an ordinance says any company providing cable in town must serve all interested residents within three years.

Mike Edgecomb, director of government relations for Time Warner, said the company considers the service in town potentially profitable, but is requesting the town's existing ordinance be modified. Selectmen and the company must concur on terms of a franchise agreement and the company needs approval to use existing utility poles.

The draft franchise agreement Edgecomb outlined to selectmen says service will be provided where it is "economically feasible."

Often, that phrase means where there are at least 20 houses per mile, Edgecomb said, but he preferred to avoid citing an exact figure.

Selectman Paul Cowing calculated that cable might initially be offered in and around Branch Mills Village and along part of Route 3.

Edgecomb said state law requires a franchise agreement between company and town officials to let the company operate in town and collect payments.

After an agreement is signed, Time Warner would ask utilities for permission to share their poles. The company budgets between $20,000 and $25,000 a mile to extend cable service, but sometimes it costs more, Edgecomb said.

There is no cost to the town. Time Warner would pay property taxes, and Edgecomb said a town can choose to impose a franchise fee, up to 5 percent, on cable revenues. The company would add the fee to the bills it sends customers.

Edgecomb said about half of Maine municipalities with cable service have a local franchise fee.

Selectmen took no action Thursday evening.

In other business:

* Mark Preble, manager of the town's website, townofpalermo.org, discussed additions, links and other improvements to make the site more useful to residents.

* Town Clerk Sheila McCarty said moose permit applications are available at the Town Office for residents who prefer to apply on paper instead of online. Absentee ballots for the March 9 local elections are also available.

* Retiring Regional School Unit 12 board member Simeon Blake Brown told selectmen that the board rejected the proposed reallocation of costs among member towns, a measure that would have increased Palermo's contribution.

* Waldo County Treasurer and Palermo resident David Parkman gave selectmen a copy of the 2012 assessments on county towns, showing the county tax increasing. Palermo is slated to pay almost $297,000 in county taxes.

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