Greenwood Township looks at local, state and federal options for broadband funding

The Timberjay reports on broadband funding and hopes for Greenwood Township…

Chairman Mike Ralston told the Greenwood Town Board that the township’s $5.5 million request for broadband funding is part of the just-approved Senate Infrastructure bill, having been put on the list by both Senators Tina Smith and Amy Klobuchar.
This funding, if approved by the House of Representatives and signed by President Joe Biden, would provide the vast majority of the estimated $6.6 million project.
The township will also be applying for grant funding from a new St. Louis County broadband program that will award a maximum of $400,000, and grant dollars from the IRRR.
Greenwood Township also received $50,316 in federal funding from the American Rescue Plan Act, but whether the board will set aside those funds for a local match to the proposed broadband project is yet to be determined. The township will receive a similar amount in 2022.

Supervisor Sue Drobac asked Ralston why other board members weren’t informed that the township had received the American Rescue Act funding as of the end of July. She said that members of the township’s broadband committee had submitted their own application.
“We need more communication,” Drobac said. “We spent a lot of time on this.”
Ralston agreed, and said he had sent the application to Deputy Treasurer Tammy Mortaloni to complete.
“There was a long list of COVID-related items we could use it for,” he said.
The board asked the broadband committee, which includes Drobac and Supervisor Barb Lofquist, to be in charge of submitting the grant to the new St. Louis County broadband program, which will distribute a total of $1.75 million in American Rescue Plan monies for broadband projects. That grant application is due in September.
The board voted down a motion by Drobac to place the $50,316 in American Rescue Plan dollars into a restricted broadband account, with Ralston and Supervisors Carmen DeLuca and Paul Skubic all voting against.
The board then approved, unanimously, a motion that any grants written specifically for broadband infrastructure would go into a restricted account. This still leaves the township the option of using some or all of the $50,316 for the broadband project.
A survey for township residents to gauge interest in receiving broadband should be available on the township website, www.greenwoodtownshipmn.com, and all township property owners will be mailed a letter urging them to complete the study, or to return a paper copy as soon as possible.

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