Commissioner Biggs replies to KUB letter

June 25, 2021

Dear Gabe,

I read your letter and appreciate your response. However, I do not agree with your philosophy or your interpretation.

I do not necessarily oppose KUB entering the broadband business as you said in your letter. I do oppose spending $700 million of ratepayers’ money and having a 9% rate increase without a full hearing on the issue.

Early on, KUB committed to having public meetings in every council district – but that is no longer the case. Instead, KUB has only held two lightly publicized meetings, which is why constituents across Knox County were not aware of the electric rate increases that are part of this plan.

The County is focused on getting affordable broadband to those who do not have access and would like to weigh the various options on the table. That’s why Mayor Jacobs asked for a meeting with KUB and broadband providers to discuss the proposed plan and other options. KUB, however, refused to attend the meeting.

Also, as you are aware, several private sector companies provide programs to serve low-income residents. Therefore, it is disingenuous to act like KUB’s plan is new and innovative.

Taxing your ratepayers to give Knox County more money in lieu of taxes is an interesting business strategy. Knox County has not raised property taxes in over two decades because of solid economic growth and sound fiscal management. I find it unlikely that many citizens like the idea of their electric bills going up to get more in lieu of tax payment money to any government entity. This is much better accomplished through economic growth and sound fiscal management.

I hope you will join me in ensuring transparency and welcome the idea of a workshop so collectively, our community can move forward with a comprehensive plan to provide broadband for all of our citizens.

If the KUB plan is a good idea on June 29 why would it not still be a good idea on August 29 after the public has an opportunity to engage on this matter fully?

I greatly appreciate your thoughtful consideration.

Best regards,

Justin Biggs

Knox County Commissioner At-large

 

 


Find the letter here.

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