Your paper is widely read and appreciated out here in the township.
On August 8, Lyndon Township voters will be asked to vote on a millage proposal that will last for 20 years. Next to school millage taxes, it will be the third largest component of your property tax bill, totaling almost 3 mils. Other millage items in our twice a year tax bills currently include 13 other millage taxes.
On the one hand, the proposal promises to install cable to every parcel of property in the township. When installed, bids will be solicited from internet service providers (Comcast, for example) to push connectivity through the new Lyndon Township cable to those who pay the additional fee for that ISP service. Speeds are projected to be mind boggling fast, allowing people (who have the opportunity) to work from home, to allow internet gamers to play games demanding high internet speeds, to enable students to utilize computers at incredible speeds, to allow TV subscribers to get away from satellite/cable, and to provide options for telephone service.
On the other hand, some township residents already have some level of service that serves them adequately, others don’t want to increase their tax burdens, many own vacant property/lots that are not exempt from millage taxes (and will likely receive no benefit from the cable run to the property), some object to the list of unanswered questions about the assumptions of “average values” upon which projections are based, there will certainly be ongoing costs of operation once the 20 year note is paid off, and more than a few people question the speed of download service being promised.
Additionally, some significant upgrade offerings have been made by ISPs since the beginning of this millage quest. More are scheduled. While they won’t/can’t serve every person in the township, more and more will find them acceptable.
For me, the project seems worthy of consideration, but just doesn’t have the ducks lined up at this point. There was never a follow up survey to the Lyndon Township voters. No one else in the county will be on the hook for the decision to pay off this 20 year note, so determining the current commitment level of the Lyndon Township voters must be considered a moral imperative.
I have tried to imagine a world 20 years from now where this millage decision would be the best option for whatever the communications environment will be. While some may believe there is an algorithm to predict this scenario 20 years into the future, I certainly do not. Who wants to be paying off a bill years after the benefit is gone? I took the time to run a search on my current ISP for “the speed of technological advancement”. The consensus is that we can expect the rate of information accessibility and connectivity to develop so fast that it will defy comprehension. What we have seen in the last 20 years will pale in comparison to what we are about to experience.
Maybe the most compelling reason to delay this decision until more information is collected and disseminated is the ugly feeling I have when I think about asking Lyndon Township residents on fixed incomes to see the benefit of “contributing” to the good of the community, even though they may not know anyone who does or will work from home, uses high speed internet to play games, or care to use VOIP offerings. Especially when I know that there is almost no likelihood that the technology we plan for today will be useful in 10 years, much less 20. Let’s keep the conversation going. I’m voting “No” on this proposal and am hoping that others will as well. This is a good starting point, but it needs more thought.