By Mickey Gorman
After announcing that Rockbridge County’s new fiber optic network will extend 30 miles less than initially planned, the Rockbridge Area Network Authority (RANA) board requested an additional $120,000 in funding Monday night.
The request asks for an addition $66,000 from Rockbridge County, $30,000 from Buena Vista and $24,000 from Lexington.
At a Rockbridge County Board of Supervisors meeting Monday night, RANA Chairman, Hunt Riegel, explained that the additional money is needed to operate the network during the period between completion of the network’s construction and when the network starts generating revenue. Rockbridge County had initially set aside $52,000 to cover costs during this time.
The requests for additional funds are a part of a $9.9 million dollar network upgrade, $7 million of which is being paid for by a grant from the federal government. Washington and Lee University also put forth $2.5 million for the project
Riegel said that the $7 million grant from the federal government can be used only for construction of the network, not for operating the network after construction.
Members of the Rockbridge County Board of Supervisors said they would not oblige the RANA board’s request for additional funding until after seeing a detailed plan and explanation.
“We need a little more information before we pull that kind of money out,” said Supervisor John Higgins.
“Where did 30 miles of money go?” Supervisor David Hinty asked Riegel.
Riegel said that the RANA board ran into several problems while installing the fiber optic network. Most arose from property disputes and rerouting plans, which cost RANA both time and money.
RANA had hoped to finish the network by the end of this month. Now construction will continue until the end of June. The network will span 108 miles
Riegel said that RANA plans to expand the network once it earns enough revenue to pay for additional the construction, which he predicted would be two years from now.
Next week Riegel will make the same presentation and request additional funding at the Lexington and Buena Vista city council meetings.