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In an effort to become more competitive in cyberspace, city officials on Tuesday agreed in consensus to change the rate sheet of the citywide fiber-optic network.
FiberNET, which was approved by the Palm Coast City Council in 2005, uses 50 miles of fiber-optic cable to connect more than 20 city facilities to its own high-speed network. The city also contracts out with Florida Hospital Flagler to connect five medical buildings and the Flagler County School District to connect 15 facilities.
Previously, the city offered 11 bandwidth speeds. But on Tuesday, Steve Viscardi, information technology and communications director for the city, said the new rates ultimately will help the city remain competitive with other providers, such as Bright House and AT&T.
The new rates, which are what the local Internet service providers are charged, would take effect after the City Council formally votes on the ordinance next month. The local ISPs then negotiate with the end-users, Viscardi said.
When approved, there will be eight speed options at cheaper monthly costs. For example, 50 megabits per second will cost $450 per month, down from the previous monthly rate of $750.
At a 50 Mpbs speed, several computers can be online and streaming at the same time, according to Viscardi.
All of the new rates include symmetrical bandwidth.
“That means it’s the same bandwidth going up to the Internet as it is going down,” Viscardi said, noting that most consumers download rather than upload. “The big thing with ours is its dedicated bandwidth, it’s not a shared pipe.”
In addition to new pricing, city officials announced Tuesday that since FiberNEt’s inception, the city has spent a total of $3.99 million and brought in about $1.06 million.
If the city were to freeze expenditures, the breakeven point as of Oct. 1 would be about 5.6 years, Viscardi said. That includes city, school district, hospital and ISPs expenses and revenues.
Viscardi said that as expenditures do increase over the coming years, revenues should increase, too.
While city officials acknowledge that the goal isn’t to compete with Bright House and AT&T, the FiberNET system needs to be run like a business if the city wants to make money on it.
“Our goal as a business is to make a profit — any way we can do it,” City Councilman Bill McGuire said.
City unanimously adopts millage rate, budget
The Palm Coast City Council last week unanimously adopted a tax rate of 4.2958 mills, or $4.29 per $1,000 of taxable value, for the 2012-2013 fiscal year.
The proposed millage rate is the rolled-back rate, which means the city will collect the same amount of money during the upcoming budget year, despite a property values dip of about 6.4%, according to city officials.
The city also adopted a budget of about $125 million. The general fund accounts for approximately $26 million of the budget, while property taxes account for about $15 million.
City accepting applications to help residents purchase homes
The city of Palm Coast is accepting applications from qualified individuals wishing to purchase a home.
Rehabbed foreclosed homes are now being sold, with up to $45,000 in available financial assistance through the national Neighborhood Stabilization Program.
The city will hold a special informational workshop 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 3, at the Flagler County Administration Building, 1769 E. Moody Blvd., in Bunnell.
Contact Valerie Bradley at 313-4037.
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