May 11, 2017
Hagerstown, Md. is facing a $2.4 million budget gap. The city council is considering an increase in property taxes to help fill it. Originally the five member board wanted a 5.5-cent take hike, but after taking a look at the spending side of its ledger, the council thinks they might be able to get by with a less significant increase. Among the cuts city councilors are considering is “eliminating the city’s funding for its municipal broadband project.”
There’s not a lot of information available about Hagerstown’s project, but we do know that the city already is well-served by the private sector. According to Broadband Now, “Hagerstown is covered by two main providers: Antietam Cable Television and Verizon High Speed Internet. Both of these companies provide residential internet access to most residents of Hagerstown. … Additionally, most consumers in Hagerstown have access to fixed wireless internet from Telegia Communications.” Hagerstown has a total of 20 broadband providers. In Washington County, where Hagerstown is situated, only 9,000 people do not have access to 25 mbps wired broadband.
Maryland itself is the 8th-most connected state in the nation. Only 263,000 people this state of six million people are without access to a wired connection capable of 25 mbps download speeds. Only 343,000 people have access to only one wired provider.
The Hagerstown city council will hold a public hearing on its budget proposal next Tuesday, May 16. We hope council members will continue to put taxpayers first and eliminate funding for its wasteful government-owned broadband project.
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