Legislative audit blasts UTOPIA's planning, use of bond funds

Return To Article
Add a comment
    Aug. 2, 2012 5:42 p.m.

    Stop spending money on it and close it down.

  • JMOpinion Orem, UT
    Aug. 2, 2012 3:39 p.m.

    In the real world of business, a 10 year history of failure at this level would mean disaster. But when you prop up the company with taxpayer dollars, you have no impetus for improvement and can keep executing your inept business decisions with no penalty. When you are asking the residents of a city to cough up $2,750 dollars per household just to get connected, put a "notice" (read lien) on their home if they choose the more "affordable" option of monthly payments, AND you raise their property taxes to make the city's debt payment to the company, you need to be running a tight ship. Ten years history shows us UTOPIA management doesn't have the ability to do this. Time to sell the company to the private sector (where this service should have been offered in the first place).

  • tabuno Clearfield, UT
    Aug. 2, 2012 12:03 p.m.

    This laudable state government effort at bringing the internet to the average citizen can't ignore the multi-billion dollar private sector global telecommunication corporations with multi-million dollar advertising budgets enticing Americans with fancy hi-tech gadgets, deregulated cost restrictions so that customer fees can be charged at market-rates, and poor management decisions can be hidden away out of sight...it's no wonder comparisons are difficult to come by...UTOPIA is an open book supported by public taxpayer dollars. It's too bad investors can't have the same access to the larger private corporations so they can make informed decisions as well.

  • gee-en Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 2, 2012 10:10 a.m.

    Utopia has an option now where you lease the connection for like $20 a month, so no more $1,000's of dollars up front for a connection fee if you don't want.
    Also, I don't consider this project totally competing with the private marketplace for 2 main reasons:
    1. There is no private company out there laying down fiber throughout the Wasatch Front.
    2. All Utopia does is provide the fiber connection, but then you are free to choose what kind of data flows through that connection, choosing to pay for data/voice/TV plans from many private companies. (Akin to the government building our roads, but we get to choose what kind of private vehicles to drive on those public roads)
    I live in Layton and do not have Utopia as an option quite yet in my area. But when it is available, I will be one of the first to sign up.
    I am glad these kinds of audits exist and see it is a positive that they are working to keep Utopia "honest" because I really want it to succeed.

  • Thunder Orem, UT
    Aug. 2, 2012 8:30 a.m.

    I'd use UTOPIA if there wasn't a $1000 connection fee to connect fiber from the street to my rental a few feet off the street. It isn't worth trying to convince my landlord to approve the connection when he's already touchy about any more holes in his walls. I certainly don't expect him to drop $1000 per unit to bring in UTOPIA and I'm not going to pay that for a rental I won't be in forever. For now I'm using Comcast. When I lived in a Provo rental I used iProvo/mSTAR/Broadweave/Veracity. The connection/setup fee was reasonable (on the order of a hundred) and the speeds were great.

  • regis Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 1, 2012 3:56 p.m.

    This has got to be one of the biggest fiascos in the history of Utah municipal government. Roughly one-quarter of the bond money has been used to pay back the bond? Cities paying as much as $3.4 million annually? That's just incredible --- an incredibly irresponsible use of taxpayer money.

    Just think of what West Valley City and the others involved could do with that money in terms of police, fire, parks/recreation, etc. Instead, it's all being squirreled down a rathole.

    Why should anyone believe the current chairman of the board when he says they've got the problems fixed and are on the way to breaking even by 2015? I don't believe any projection offered by UTOPIA executives or board members since the inception of this boondoggle has come close to being accurate.

  • DN Subscriber Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Aug. 1, 2012 1:21 p.m.

    Once again we see what happens when government meddles in what should be private sector free market business opportunities.

    Is anyone actually better off having had this albatross placed around our necks, that will be sucking down tax dollars for decades, even from people who do not use it?

    Coincidentally, UTOPIA is defined as "an ideal commonwealth whose inhabitants exist under seemingly perfect conditions. Hence "utopian" and "utopianism" are words used to denote visionary reform that tends to be impossibly idealistic."

    Meanwhile, I have enjoyed ever better broadband service at declining prices thanks to competition between for-profit companies who want to earn my business.

    Let this be a lesson- government should not meddle in what should be private business. It will never be cheaper, better, faster, or any other positive feature. Remember this as government takes over our medical care, automotive industry and who knows what else.

  • Prodicus Provo, UT
    Aug. 1, 2012 1:02 p.m.

    iProvo didn't fail because it wasn't a good idea, it failed because those with vested interests in seeing it fail managed to get politicians to do their bidding.

    In particular, forcing iProvo to use the "wholesale model" - to only provide the connection and try to have a bunch of different private providers selling services over that connection - was something anybody with half a brain could see would doom the project to failure, and those who were pushing that requirement were dishonest about their intentions and their monetary motivations. The fiber infrastructure was a good investment and would have paid off well for the city and its inhabitants if there hadn't been so many people trying to force it to fail.

    The Utah Taxpayers' Association and its lobbyists, including Mr. Van Tassell, do not represent taxpayers' interests. I encourage these folks to move to Somalia, where they can live out the no-government-services fantasies they now publicly proclaim and leave the rest of us in peace.

  • rogerdpack2 Orem, UT
    Aug. 1, 2012 12:38 p.m.

    At least they're trying...unfortunately they don't have much of a chance because the idea was poorly founded initially (well...a risk at least), so we'll keep spending money to bail it out. It *is* however, more useful to residents than some other taxes, like..new recreation centers. So maybe it's ok...

  • Fitz Murray, UT
    Aug. 1, 2012 11:18 a.m.

    There are some of us that pointed out in the beginning that UTOPIA was not and would not be financially feasible. And when UTOPIA said they needed more money, we said to the cities, "don't do it." And the response from the cities was that they were in too deep and needed to continue supporting UTOPIA. Like Provo, these cities got into a field that belongs in the private sector. The probability of UTOPIA breaking even in the next 5 years is very low. Considering the current debt level, the narrowness of access to UTOPIA by potential subscribers, the amount of construction left to be done, it is unlikely that UTOPIA is capable of breaking even, yet alone making a profit.

    It has been suggested that a private sector entity buy out UTOPIA, but why would a respectful business entity buy out someone with the amount of debt and lack of customer access? The cities will be paying for this for many, many years to come. Perhaps the voters should reconsider who they vote for.

  • toosmartforyou Farmington, UT
    Aug. 1, 2012 11:07 a.m.

    My, my....surprise, surprise. You mean local government, just like the federal government, can't be all things to all people? What could those politicians have been thinking that get their residents into this bog, anyway? I feel for my relatives that live in one of the cities that have run up this debt. Remember that come election time, dear family.

  • Spectre23 West Valley City, UT
    Aug. 1, 2012 10:46 a.m.

    I wanted Utopia, but they do not have it available at my house which is in the city giving them the most money and located right next to a school. But still no service in my area. Instead I give my $70 per month to comcast for just OK internet speed.