DOBSON — The Dobson Board of Commissioners approved a new five-year contract with AT&T at Thursday’s meeting.
The town’s proposed contract with the wireless service provider would continue a revenue stream worth $118,980 over the life of the agreement.
AT&T pays $1,983 a month for the right to have a wireless antennae array atop the town’s water tower, according to Town Manager Josh Smith. It is one of four companies to do so, with U.S. Cellular, T-Mobile and Carolina West also in place.
AT&T wanted to negotiate the price down to $1,500 a month, but with a guarantee that the company would provide a revenue stream for at least the next 15 years. Smith said the agreement would be that if AT&T pulled out of Dobson for some reason that it would continue to pay rent for the rest of the 15-year period.
The commissioners agreed that it seemed unlikely that a cell phone provider would pull out of the county seat.
And if the worst came to pass and AT&T folded, that “guaranteed” revenue would disappear anyway, noted Commissioner Todd Dockery.
With data usage climbing every year, site locations are at a premium, said Smith. If AT&T didn’t want that spot on the tower, then the space could go to a competitor like Verizon or Sprint.
A company could decide to erect its own tower, but that can be costly between acquiring land and building costs.
Besides, Smith pointed out, the town could always do like Chapel Hill did and pass an ordinance against cell towers in the town limits.
The board voted to keep the fee the same with an option for 5-percent increases for any future five-year contracts. Smith will now take this matter back to AT&T for approval.
• When it came time for the monthly financial report, Smith said that Laura Neely, town finance officer, wasn’t at the meeting because she was at the hospital about to have a baby. By the next board meeting, there will be a new Neely, he told the board.
• The board approved a change in the Tourism Development Authority board.
After many years of service on the TDA board, Ed Shelton has stepped down, said Smith. By the bylaws of the authority, the replacement would need to be someone who works in the hotel industry.
Cindy McBride, who works for the Sheltons, was interested in taking his place, Smith said.
Commissioner Bob Comer said he has worked with McBride on another board in the past and thinks she’ll do a fine job.
The board approved the appointment.
• Town Clerk Misty Marion reminded everyone that the town parade and tree lighting ceremony will be held today. After being rescheduled due to rain, the parade starts at 2 p.m. Activities recommence at 6 p.m. for the tree lighting ceremony, with the switch being flipped at 6:30 p.m.
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