Oct. 8—NEW LONDON — The Kandiyohi County Board of Commissioners continues to approve grants to broadband expansion projects, using the county's American Rescue Plan Act allocation.
At Tuesday's board meeting, the commissioners approved funding up to $185,828 to help pay for broadband upgrades in three neighborhoods located in New London Township and a small piece of Burbank Township.
"The (Kandiyohi County and City of Willmar Economic Development Commission) broadband committee has been working really hard to get broadband across the county," said County Administrator Larry Kleindl. "The agreement was we were going to use 70 to 75% of our (American Rescue Plan) dollars for broadband if possible. We have been working on that."
The first of the three projects is for residents on a section of 141st Avenue Northeast. The project would bring high-speed broadband to 37 unserved homes for a total cost of $88,770.
In July, the County Board had already approved contributing $35,000 to the project. Charter Communications, the service provider, has since increased its contribution to 87% of the total cost, or $77,000.
At Tuesday's meeting, the board amended its original resolution to decrease the county's contribution to $11,770.
The two additional neighborhoods to receive broadband are 32 unserved homes on 199th Avenue Northeast and 84 unserved homes on Riverwood Circle.
The 199th Avenue project has a total cost of $145,545, with Charter contributing $112,000 toward the project, or 77 percent. The county's approved contribution is $35,545.
The total cost for the Riverwood Circle project is $432,513, with the county approving $138,513 toward the project. Charter is contributing $294,000 or 68%.
New London Township Charter Broadband Projects by West Central Tribune on Scribd
When these projects were first discussed this year, the county's contribution was estimated to be closer to $400,000. However, Charter has increased its contributions toward all the projects, reducing the county's share.
"It is good to see Charter to step up on that," said Commissioner Steve Gardner.
The board is also hoping New London and Burbank townships will contribute to the broadband projects. Kleindl said the request for New London Township is $23,378 and for Burbank the request is $4,986. If the townships refuse to assist in funding, the county will give the entire $185,828. However, township funds would reduce the county's overall contribution, leaving more money for additional projects.
"I really hope the townships will chip in on this," said Commissioner Corky Berg.
Since June, Kandiyohi County has contributed approximately $1,815,828 of its $8 million American Rescue Plan allocation to broadband projects. They include $1.3 million for the Federated project in Dovre, Mamre, St. Johns and Arctander townships and $330,000 for an Arvig project in Prinsburg. The EDC committee is also working on a multi-township project on the east side of the county.
"We want to do as much as we can for broadband. We are taking a step at a time, in the right direction, not going backwards," Berg said.