The Piedmont City Council entered a telecommunications franchise agreement Tuesday to boost cell phone data service in the area and net the city about $6,000 annually.
As part of the vote, the council agreed to spend $4,000 to hire Georgia-based firm Local Government Services to negotiate and finalize the franchise agreement with telecommunications company Mobilitie. City officials said the company would pay to use Piedmont’s right-of-way to install cell phone antennas.
The agreement was approved at the council’s regular Tuesday meeting.
“This is an initial investment that I think will pay off,” said Mayor Bill Baker. “It’s a small investment for long-term gain.”
Casey Ponder, city electric supervisor, said the city would recoup the $4,000 investment in one year of payments from the company. Ponder said negotiations on the agreement would begin soon.
The company’s plan is to install antennas on about six city-owned electricity poles, Ponder said. The antennas would provide extra signal strength for data service only for any cell phone service provider that wants to use them, such as Verizon or Sprint.
“We know Sprint wants it already, otherwise Mobilitie wouldn’t be pushing for this,” Ponder said.
Later in the meeting, the council agreed to spend about $10,000 for 150 new trash cans and $12,212 for 10 new dumpsters. City officials said the trashcans were mainly needed to replace damaged ones. Officials also said they needed more dumpsters to possibly expand the city’s garbage service customer base.
Also during the meeting, the council agreed to look at an updated version of a draft budget for the city’s 2017 fiscal year before possibly approving it at the next meeting. The city’s fiscal year began Oct. 1. State law doesn’t require a city of Piedmont’s size to pass an annual budget.
The council first argued on whether to pass a budget Tuesday and on if spending cuts should be made. The city has an approximately $1.6 million spending deficit in its General Fund this year. However, the city will offset that entire deficit with utility fee money.
Several council members said they wanted to find ways to cut spending to free up utility fee money for other things and planned to talk with department heads on the issue.
“There have to be some tough cuts,” said Councilman Bobby Hardin.
Michelle Franklin, city clerk, and Baker noted that they’ve met with department heads and cut spending considerably this year.
“It’s bare bones, it really is,” Franklin said of the budget.
Staff Writer Patrick McCreless: 256-235-3561. On Twitter @PMcCreless_Star.