The Lowndes County Commission voted 3-2 to float a bond issue to purchase the Hayneville Plaza building for $3.5 million. That building would serve as the headquarters for the South Central Alabama Broadband Cooperative District. The project could bring at least 1200 jobs to the region, with most of them in Lowndes County.
The vote came after a sometimes contentious public hearing on the plan. Opponents said while they welcomed the broadband initiative and the jobs it bring with it, they questioned the purchase price of the building, which is owned by Karl and Heleanor Bell. Mrs. Bell is the Mayor of Hayneville. They also questioned what liability the county had if the project fails.
"Their only concern is, if this doesn't follow through, that they would have pass this along to their customers, because their taxes are going to get raised," said Randy Bozeman, an attorney for Hayneville Holdings. "And I believe that's the problem a lot of taxpayers have with it."
A representative for the South Central Alabama Broadband Commission said the District is committed to staying the building for 20 years. Others in the audience agreed with county leaders, who said the project would provide a much needed boost to the economy.
"Now my business is struggling, and I'm really looking forward to the broadband," said Cynthia Carter, a business owner. "It would just bring jobs to the county.:"
The broadband district would lease the building from the county, and the proceeds from the lease and a portion of the revenue earned by the District would help pay off the building. The initiative is being paid for through $59 dollars in federal funds, and about $27 million in matching funds.