The Montezuma County commissioners indicated Monday they do not want to be part of the Southwest Colorado Council of Governments, or COG, and will pursue county-wide Internet on their own.
Following a lengthy and sometimes confusing discussion, Commissioner Keenan Ertel said they want to focus for now on informing voters of the importance of opting out of SB 152, an action which would allow the county to possibly be part of a public/private partnership to provide reasonably priced broadband to all residents. Many other rural entities, including the town of Mancos, have already opted out of the state law because it prohibits such ventures. Both Montezuma County and the town of Dolores will have opt-out questions on the November ballot. Ten municipalities and four counties in Southwest Colorado are members of the COG, which is working on a regional broadband plan. Mancos Town Administrator Andrea Phillips, Cortez City Manager Shane Hale, and economic development specialist Chelsea Jones raised a concern about the county and the rest of the region competing for broadband funding, but Commissioner Larry Don Suckla voiced optimism about the county’s ability to secure energy-impacts grants from the state. The commissioners, who earlier had suggested a sales tax to fund high-speed Internet, appear to have cooled on that idea.