SANDOWN – The Board of Selectmen approved with a 4-0 vote a proposed Cable TV franchise agreement with Comcast Monday night. Chairman Hans Nicolaisen was not present for the vote.
Under the new license, Sandown subscribers will pay a 2.5 percent franchise fee, up from 2 percent under the previous agreement. After the first five years of the agreement, the franchise fee rises to 3 percent.
In a letter to the board detailing highlights of the agreement, Gordon Champion, who served as negotiator of the license renewal, wrote the additional revenue generated by the increase will go to replacing outdated transmission equipment and offsetting personnel expenses in the future.
But the hallmark of the renewal license, according to Champion, is a provision that includes the possibility of activating a second Public, Educational and Governmental (PEG) access channel if the board requests doing so.
“Channel space and bandwidth are at a premium with any cable provider, thus this set aside of channel space for future use by Sandown is valuable,” he informed the board. “It will provide Sandown citizens with the potential of developing locally originated programming unfettered by advertising and time constrictions.”
Other highlights of the license include a more reasonable density requirement that accommodates the town’s rural nature, a provision that protects subscribers from having any sensitive information obtained by Comcast sold to a third party, and a provision in which Comcast agrees not to bill subscribers for service calls when made outside the designated time frame promised.
Champion calls the agreement “a flexible, subscriber focused, and well thought out document capable of meeting the Town’s cable television needs over the next decade.”
The new license expires July 30, 2024.
Town Administrator Lynne Blaisdell called the agreement “very reasonable” and praised the Cable Access Board and Champion for their efforts to secure a good agreement for the town.
In other business:
Due to an increase in insurance costs for municipal plowing, the Board of Selectman approved with a 3-0 vote a $5 per hour increase in plow rates for the 2014-2015 winter season.
Nicolaisen and Vice Chairman James Devine were not present for the vote.
This is the first rate increase for winter plowing since 2008.
Public Works Director Arthur Genualdo told the board the town’s insurance rates are in the same range as those of neighboring communities.
With the increase, plowing will cost the Town $65 per hour for a three-quarter-ton pickup, $70 per hour for a one-ton pickup, $75 per hour for a one-and-a-half-ton pickup, $100 per hour for Loader Number One, and $110 per hour for Loader Number Two.