Yellow Springs makes internet a public utility

Darien Crowe, from Dayton, texts his girlfriend Tuesday October 13, 2020 on Courthouse Square. Dayton, Yellow Spring and Springboro are cities that are putting in free WIFI in part of their cities. FILE
Caption
Darien Crowe, from Dayton, texts his girlfriend Tuesday October 13, 2020 on Courthouse Square. Dayton, Yellow Spring and Springboro are cities that are putting in free WIFI in part of their cities. FILE

Yellow Springs residents will soon be able to get internet services from the village.

Village council unanimously approved Monday moving forward with creating a public utility for internet services.

Josué Salmerón, the village’s manager, said Yellow Springs already has fiber through the downtown area. The next step is getting connections into homes.

Creating a public utility allows the village to apply for grants, Salmerón said. However, Salmerón said the village could also borrow the approximately $3 million the village needs and even with factoring in the costs of debt and running the utility, the village would still make money over a 20-year period off the services by charging people who participate in the broadband project.

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Salmerón noted the village had already secured about $300,000 that will support getting internet to about 17% of the village.

The village is working with the Miami Valley Educational Computer Association, which provides internet to some schools.

Salmerón said the village is working with Yellow Springs Schools to identify families with children who don’t have internet access and those homes will be priority clients. Many of those students already were provided with hot spots through the district

At Monday’s meeting, four members of the village spoke in favor of the ordinance, some of whom said they were working with the village on the project.

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“I think this is a very low-risk ordinance,” said Scott Fife. “We’re not making decisions or how it gets built, but it just allows us to take the next step towards getting this done.”

Salmerón noted during the meeting he had spoken with multiple internet utility companies, who said they would be happy to build out internet in Yellow Springs, but only if the village paid for it.

“I found that position — or that offer from them — that we would take taxpayer money to help them build something that ultimately they would own and they would profit from, I find that problematic,” he said.

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