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Comcast given extension to act

January 9, 2013

The city of West Point is giving Comcast only a few more weeks to act on a service contract with the city before the city passes a resolution to remove all of Comcast’s attachments on city-owned utility poles.
Paying only $1.50 per pole is no longer an option and is no longer acceptable to the city, which is now asking Comcast to sign a contract through which Comcast would pay $15 per pole. If Comcast officials don’t act soon the city of West Point is ready to detach all Comcast attachments from city poles and negotiate with other cable and Internet service providers.
West Point Chief Administrative Officer Randy Jones said Comcast has a total delinquent debt to the city of $90,000, which includes pole fees and delinquent franchise fees. There have been numerous meetings and teleconferences between the city of West Point and Comcast, but Jones said as of Dec. 24, 2012 the cable provider has failed to deliver the signed contract and pay delinquent fees.
The West Point Board of Mayor and Selectmen agreed to give Comcast 30 more days to act before the city takes further action. But before approval of the extension of time, Jones, Mayor Scott Ross and City Attorney Orlando Richmond, Sr. discussed the patience the city has had with Comcast and discussed the city’s obligation to collect unpaid fees to the city.
“They remind me of an insurance company that just doesn’t want to pay the claim,” Ross said. “The longer they hold the money the better they like it. They know they have to pay us sooner or later. We don’t have any desire to remove Comcast as a cable service provider for the city and don’t see how that would ever happen, but they just slow-play us every time. We’ve been dealing with this for two years. They know they owe us the money.”
Jones said the average rate for pole rentals is upwards of $20, but the city is only asking for $15 per pole. AT&T already pays the city around $29 for pole attachments. So to continue allowing Comcast to pay $1.50 is almost like allowing the company to use the poles for free, Ross said.
“It’s our judiciary duty to collect that money,” Ross said before asking Richmond to share his advice.
“My tolerance ran out a long time ago so I’m ready to act in the direction of this board,” Richmond said. “It’s not as if they’re an entity that’s incapable of paying. They understand that. We’ve been cordial in our discussions with them, and they’ve been cordial in their discussions with us. At the end of the day they have not paid. They need to, and I don’t think we need to delay any further. A 30-day letter is generous, it’s amicable and at this point I’m more than happy to do what I’m paid to do as city attorney.”
Ross said as the 30-day deadline draws near and Comcast has not acted a special board meeting will be called and the board will approve the next plan of action.

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