The Independence City Council Tuesday, Feb. 12, passed a resolution supporting the Lake Minnetonka Communications Commission (LMCC) in cable television franchise negotiations with Mediacom — a decision that, for some cities, might not be automatic.
At the meeting, the City Council also took up other business. Here some meeting highlights.
The LMCC consists of 17 member cities that have a 10 year franchise agreement with Mediacom for items such as constructing cable connections to subscribers’ homes. The agreement will expire at the end of this year. The current agreement with Mediacom, as well as previous agreements, was structured around provision of cable television service. Over the years Mediacom cable connections increasingly have carried internet and telephone services to subscribers.
The problem is that five of the 17 member cities are considered to be underserved by Mediacom. The company has slowly been extending cable infrastructure to areas that have a certain number of homes per cable mile. In rural areas, homes are farther apart, and it has not been financially feasible for Mediacom to hook them up under the current franchise agreement. Medina residents have complained about not having access to high speed internet. Late in 2012 Medina City Council discussed leaving the LMCC and negotiating directly with Mediacom to expedite construction of cable infrastructure in underserved areas of the city.
Meanwhile, the LMCC is asking member cities to approve a resolution supporting the LMCC as their exclusive representative in cable TV franchise negotiations. This is the resolution that the Independence City Council approved on Feb. 12. At its Feb. 5 meeting, the Medina City Council decided to consider the resolution at a future meeting to enable city officials to study the words closely. The LMCC is asking member cities to consider and approve resolutions similar to the Independence document by March 31.
The LMCC resolution says in the “whereas” portion, “Some LMCC member cities have been approached by Mediacom to negotiate separate cable TV franchise agreements. Cities cannot in good faith have two separate franchise negotiations proceeding at the same time.”
Another whereas clause says, “The LMCC attorney and franchise committee will have better negotiating power if the majority of the cities stay in the JPA (joint powers agreement).”
The Independence City Council resolution authorizes “exclusive representation by the LMCC in 2013 cable TV franchise negotiations as long as a similar resolution is approved by 50 percent of the LMCC member cities.” The Independence resolution sets building out cable infrastructure in underserved cities as a priority in franchise negotiations. Also, the resolution requests that the LMCC investigate and make recommendations to member cities regarding other potential amendments to the JPA, including clarification of the procedure cities must follow to withdraw from the LMCC.
LAKE SARAH GRANTS
Water Resources Consultant Becky Wozney, of Hakanson Anderson, reported on attempts to secure grants from the Board of Water and Soil Resources (BOWSR) for a study of ways to reduce the amount of phosphorus entering Lake Sarah and Lake Independence. BOWSR did not approve two grant requests, and now she and the city of Independence are getting ready for a third attempt.
She explained that BOWSR wants to fund projects rather than studies. The new grant application calls for a study targeted to Lake Sarah only. The goal of the study would be to identify projects that would enable Independence to meet the required reduction of 143 pounds per year of phosphorus entering Lake Sarah. The short term goal would be achieving 40 percent of that reduction within the first six years.
City Councilor Norm Wenck asked whether the study might duplicate work that would be done under the Lake Sarah third generation plan.
Wozney said she did not think so, and she would check into the question.
The City Council tabled action on the grant application to give Wozney time to gather the information.
The City Council also:
REAPPOINTED the South Crow River News/Delano Eagle and the Pioneer as designated newspapers for city legal notices.
CANCELLED the Feb. 26, March 12 and March 26 regular City Council meetings.
SET 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 19, as the date for the next regular City Council meeting.
REAPPOINTED Butch Gardner to a three-year term on the Planning Commission.
APPROVED Crossroads Animal Shelter, of Buffalo, as the place for impounding stray and/or “at large” dogs/puppies.
APPROVED a zero percent increase in general fees and a three percent increase in sewer fees.
APPROVED annual liquor licenses for the Ox Yoke Inn, Windsong Farms Golf Club and Pioneer Creek Golf Course, contingent upon receipt of final reports from West Hennepin Public Safety.