With the help of $500,000 from Llano County, the city of Horseshoe Bay can start improving broadband internet service for residents.
At its Nov. 8 meeting, the Commissioners Court approved awarding the money to Horseshoe Bay from its first payment of the American Rescue Plan, which totaled $2,116,711.50.
Horseshoe Bay Mayor Cynthia Clinesmith announced the award during the City Council meeting Tuesday, Nov. 16. She said the city expects another allotment of $500,000 in the spring when the county receives its second ARP payment.
“The American Rescue Plan allowed for funds for rural cities,” she said. “We don’t want to be an internet company, but we have citizens who work from home. For 2½ years, we talked to every internet provider we could get.”
Several internet companies have declined to go into Horseshoe Bay because they wouldn’t make enough money to offset their costs, Clinesmith said.
She said in the part of the city where she lives, “most of us have good” internet.
“But when you get to Horseshoe Bay West, it’s very hilly and thick with trees,” she said.
The prevalence of dolomite granite is another obstacle.
City leaders, including Councilor Frank Hosea, who also is a member of the city’s broadband committee, met with several entities to form partnerships, the mayor said, including Horseshoe Bay Resort, Spectrum, and Vyve Broadband.
Spectrum, which isn’t expected to begin work until after the first of the year, will provide services to the resort, while Vyve will serve residents not living within the resort’s properties, she added.
“Spectrum will come in and do the trench work and run the fiber,” she said. “It’s been complex. We have the contracts in place. We’ll execute (the work) after the first of the year.”
Phase one is to improve the service for Horseshoe Bay West with plans to place a tower on top of Cap Rock at 2655 Bay West Blvd. This phase is expected to take 3-6 months to complete.
Vyve will lead phase two, which should begin immediately after the first phase is wrapped up. Phase three involves the evaluation of Horseshoe Bay proper to determine the best course of action.
Clinesmith appeared before the Llano County Commissioners Court in October with the request for funding. She also asked Burnet County commissioners for $50,000 since a small part of the city is located in that county. Burnet County will address the request at an upcoming meeting.
Clinesmith commended the numerous people who have worked together with the same goal: to improve what has become an invaluable tool for residents.
“If we’re going to provide water and wastewater, and PEC is providing electricity, we have to look at the internet as a utility,” she said.
OTHER COUNCIL BUSINESS
- The council took no action in contracting a search firm to assist in hiring a city manager, choosing to look at this item again in early 2022. In the meantime, Jeff Koska will continue to serve as the interim city manager. Former City Manager Stan Farmer resigned on Oct. 13.
- Also, Councilors Frank Hosea and Randy Rives and Mayor Clinesmith took their oaths of office during the meeting.