Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Tacoma Council Will Choose Click! Option

After last week's recommendations by the Tacoma Public Utilities Board, the Tacoma City Council will consider two proposals this Tuesday night for future action on Click!.

The two resolutions are distinct choices and have significant consequences for Tacoma Power ratepayers, Click! users and businesses.

As noted in the Chamber's correspondence to the Councilmembers below, the Chamber recommends the lease option for the best future course of action.  The Chamber was an initial supporter of establishing Click! as a means to bring broadband service to Tacoma.  As an industry-defined "second city," that was an unlikely outcome at that time. The subsequent existence of a competitive marketplace is frequently cited for lower rates locally.  But, the marketplace has changed.

With continuing financial losses, Tacoma Power ratepayers have subsidized Click!'s operational losses.  The "all in" option, which represents Tacoma's substantial development of Click!, represents a $38 million bill over 10 years to bring Click! up to desired standards of service.  Even the City's attorney has opined that the existing subsidy of Click! by Tacoma Power may contravene state law.

Additionally, local small, family-owned firms providing ISP in partnership with Click! are expected to be adversely impacted by the "all in" option.  These local firms also represent jobs and investment, as well as their history of partnership.

The operation and fate of Click! is a continuing conflict between the Tacoma Public Utilities Board and the Tacoma Council.  To resolve these continuing disagreements, resolve possible legal conflicts and simplify the oversight of Click!, the Chamber suggests that Click! be reorganized under the auspices of general government with direct oversight and responsibility by the City Council.

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