Grand Junction to vote on broadband improvement

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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. The complaints are many and the options are few for city and county leaders looking to improve broadband internet across the Valley.

The City of Grand Junction will be the first of the Mesa County municipalities to attempt to regain their negotiating power with broadband internet service providers.

It's been 10 years since Senate Bill 152 went into effect, taking away the power of city and county leaders to work with internet companies or share their broadband with their residents.

In April’s municipal elections, the Grand Junction voters will have the opportunity to cast their votes in favor of overriding this legislation and jump start partnerships to improve broadband.

“You pay so much money for a sub-par product so i think having options would be a really awesome thing,” says Shaun Tatum of Grand Junction.

If comes to improving internet in Grand Junction, Shaun Tatum says you can count on his vote.

He along with other longtime Grand Valley residents have lots to say about their broadband.

“It's really slow and spotty,” says Shaun Tatum.

“I lose [connection] two or three times a week,” says Kristie Summers of Grand Junction.

The issue of reliable connectivity has risen to the top of county and city leaders' agendas.

“I can't help but believe if we get better coverage right here in grand junction it's going to help all of the valley,” says Phyllis Norris, the Grand Junction Mayor.

Currently, Senate Bill 152 limits the power of city or county officials to work with internet providers for better service or obtain grant money for improvements to internet infrastructure.

However, in the upcoming municipal elections, Grand Junction residents will have the option to give this negotiating power back to their leaders.

Grand Junction will be the pioneer for Mesa County in overriding SB-152.

They’ll be an example other governing bodies look to for guidance.

“I think that there are some opportunities and I do hope our board considers it, especially after the vote comes down with the city's ballot question,” says Mesa County Commissioner, Rose Pugliese.

Although the vote won't immediately fix the broadband issue, it will open up conversations needed to give internet in the valley a fresh start.

Mesa County Commissioners say they have not yet discussed their options broadband improvement and may approach it differently because of the rural communities they serve.

One gray area that both city and county leaders identified at their meeting on Monday afternoon was the unincorporated and urban, Clifton community.

Commercial portions of Clifton are annexed by the city of Grand Junction while residential portions are deemed county lands.

It has not yet been determined if future moves to bring broadband internet alternatives Grand Junction will be extend to all, some, or none of Clifton.

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