The Murray County Board of Commissioners convened a special session earlier this week to discuss funding options for broadband in Murray County and American Rescue Plan expenditures.
Based on a 2018 feasibility study, estimates are it would cost more than $21 million to get broadband installed across Murray County, a task that was ruled unfeasible without a private partnership, multiple rounds of grants, or both. The same study found that, were broadband available, roughly 2,690 customers would take advantage of the service.
They made some decisions…
Murray County currently has $500,000 set aside in ARPA funds that can be used. Other grants in the 30% to 40% matching range were also discussed, with the acknowledgment that most would require approval. Most grants are going to require a financial commitment from a local government.
The Board resolved to apply for the Border-to-Border grant while using $500,000 in ARPA funds as the county’s investment requirement, and see how much area they could cover with those funds. Meanwhile, they said they would address the matter further at a June 21 meeting, should more funding be needed. The board also suggested looking into partnering with internet service providers such as Woodstock Communications and Lismore Telecom for a joint grant project.
Commissioner Lori Gunnick noted that without broadband, Murray County was likely to continue to see a population decline.