County lawmakers explore options for broadband expansion | News … – The Adirondack Daily Enterprise

Oct 11, 2023
MALONE — County legislators voiced support for broadband expansion efforts during their regular meeting Thursday morning at the Franklin County Courthouse.
Work to expand access in Franklin County is being done with the help of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s ReConnect program.
According to Melinda “Lindy Ellis” D-Saranac Lake, the hope was for the Development Authority of the North Country, a public benefit corporation based in Watertown, would be a co-awardee for the funding.
“At the last minute their leadership said this doesn’t link up with their network,” Ellis said, “They were going to serve the role of owning the assets but Franklin County, as the awardee, is going to be owning the assets.”
However, Ellis said there are two other paths forward available to the county.
“One would be we do a PILOT (payment-in-lieu-of taxes) with the providers,” she said.
The two internet service providers are SLIC Network Solutions and Hudson Valley Wireless, according to Ellis.
“The second would be setting up a 501(c)12 with the providers,” Ellis said, “Maybe one provider would do a PILOT maybe one would prefer to do a 501(c)12 or both would prefer to do PILOTs.”
A 501(c)12 provides federal income tax exemption for benevolent life insurance associations of a purely local character, mutual ditch or irrigation companies, mutual or cooperative telephone companies, electric companies, or similar organizations, according to the Internal Revenue Service.
According to Donna J. Kissane, the county manager, a third option would involve the county owning the asset for five years and have a contract with the two providers.
“A contact that’s very clear that they are in charge of all operations and maintenance on that,” Kissane said, “Initially when we heard that DANC wasn’t able to take ownership, Lindy and I, I think Lindy called me and said we are on fire. Then the next day I texted her and said we just needed a minute to think about it. We were able to find three different solutions to this.”
Legislators voiced support for looking at all three options moving forward.
“Talk to them and see which fits the best,” Paul Lauzon, D-Fort Covington, said.
At a county meeting in January, Ellis said the Empire State Broadband Survey, a state initiative in early 2020, illuminated unserved and underserved communities across Franklin County.
At Thursday’s meeting, Ellis said the county wrote a Congressional supported spending request to build out broadband in Franklin County.
“That went to Elise Stefanik and was supported, it went to leader Schumer and Senator Gillibrand, they supported it too and authorized $900,000 in funding,” Ellis said, “But they put it under the USDA ReConnect project which required us to write a grant for the Congressional directed spending.”
The ReConnect Loan and Grant Program furnishes loans and grants to provide funds for the costs of construction, improvement, or acquisition of facilities and equipment needed to provide broadband service in eligible rural areas, according to the Department of Agriculture’s website.
Burke and Chateaugay currently have approximately 18% of residents who are unserved, while the town of Franklin has 59% unserved and Harrietstown had 15% unserved, at the time the project started, according to Ellis.
Ellis said the county’s application for grant funding has to pass muster with the U.S. Department of Agriculture in order to get the federal funding.
Kissane said the county submitted its application Friday.
Area residents can check broadband availability in their area by visiting the Federal Communication Commission’s online broadband map at
Today’s breaking news and more in your inbox
The Adirondack Council released its 42nd annual State of the Park report Tuesday. The report, titled “Stronger …
WILMINGTON — The Housing Assistance Program of Essex County received $1.3 million in funding from the New York …
Today’s breaking news and more in your inbox

Copyright © Adirondack Daily Enterprise | | 54 Broadway, Saranac Lake, NY 12983 | 518-891-2600


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top