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Waterloo votes 'yes' to issuing bonds for fiber network build out

September 13, 2022
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DATE: Sept. 13, 2022
BY: Maria Kuiper, Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier

WATERLOO — The city will move forward with using $20 million in general obligation bonds for
building a fiber network to support a municipal broadband utility.

More than 84% of residents voted “yes” on the measure Tuesday.

A total of 2,762 ballots were cast, which is 6.57% of the registered voters in Waterloo.
Mayor Quentin Hart attended a watch party at Jameson’s in downtown Waterloo and cheers
erupted as the results rolled in.

“This is about our community and future and we’re grateful our residents and businesses feel as
strongly as we do about Waterloo positioning itself with a fiber network that will propel us into
the future,” Hart said.

Hart also stated that Tuesday’s result “fulfilled what citizens chose in 2005,” when voters
approved the creation of a municipal broadband utility.

One Waterloo resident was ecstatic when she found out the measure passed. Marianne
Kurtenbach said she currently uses Mediacom as her internet provider. Sometimes when she’s
at home, she has to use her cellular data instead of the wi-fi on her smartphone.

“Waterloo has such a bright future … having this option that has internet that works and is
reliable,” Kurtenbach said.

With the approval, $20 million of GO bonds can be used to fund a fiber optic backbone and fiber
to the premises broadband communications system.

The project’s goal is to connect all city buildings and, eventually, all the homes in Waterloo to a
municipal service.

The price of the services is still unknown but Andy Van Fleet, chairman of the city’s
telecommunications board, said the price would be “very competitive if not priced below market.”
A survey done by Magellan Advisors said residents pay an average of $108.78 for one gigabit
per second – the same speed Waterloo is saying it will provide.

As for effects on taxpayers, Speer Financial’s Senior Vice President Maggie Burger said the city
is not looking for any tax increases based on the bonds that will be issued. Van Fleet said when
the broadband utility generates revenue, that revenue would go back to repay the bonds.

Hart said the city’s next step is to go out for bids on both the fiber backbone and fiber to the
premises project. The total project is estimated at $115 million. The backbone will cost about
$29 million and the fiber to houses is estimated at around $86 million.
Hart said construction could begin in early spring

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