First phase of network study: not quite funded yet

Last Thursday, the Northampton City Council approved Fiscal Year 2020 funding (which starts July 1, 2019) for the city’s departments, including the city’s IT Services Department. That department will presumably be overseeing the study of a municipal network for Northampton.

This does not mean that the study’s funding is now approved by the City Council. That’s because this funding is part of the mayor’s Capital Plan, which is voted on separately. The Capital Plan is scheduled to be debated and presumably voted on during the City Council’s first July meeting. Normally the City Council meets on the first and third Thursdays of the month. It’s unlikely they will meet on the first Thursday, as that is a federal holiday (Independence Day). Whenever it is, our coalition intends to be there.

If that plan is approved, $30,000 is scheduled to be spent on the study in FY20, with another $40,000 planned in FY21. The FY21 capital plan spending will presumably be voted on by the City Council in July 2020.

It’s unclear what work will be accomplished in FY20 vs. FY21. We think the FY20 funding is for doing a professional survey of Northampton residents and businesses to see if there is enough interest in the community to sustain a municipal network financially. If the study validates an acceptable “take rate” (other municipalities we have spoken to say it has to be at least 30%) then we think the second phase of the study will concentrate on estimating the engineering costs for building, maintaining and funding a municipal network. We hope to get clarity from the city on this.

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