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The Ellensburg City Council voted Monday to let a quote for a fiber optic pilot project expire because it exceeded the funding available for the project.

The fiber optic pilot project is planned to provide internet access from the city’s fiber optic network to 30 local businesses within city limits. City staff and the Utility Advisory Committee recommended that the council not take action on the quote because it exceeded the initial funding set aside for the project.

The Kittitas County Board of Commissioners passed a resolution last September to use $169,560 of economic development funding for the fiber optic pilot project. The city has until Jan. 17, 2020, to spend the funding.

The initial quote received was $415,000, more than double the funding available for the project. After negotiating, staff were able to reduce the quote by about $100,000, but the amount still exceeded the available funding.

When city staff first put the project out to bid, they did not receive any quotes from the three contractors they have on the small works roster. After not receiving a quote, they selected a contractor to provide a quote and negotiated directly. The negotiation was unsuccessful due to unfavorable market conditions.

The Utility Advisory Committee recommended the city reevaluate the geographic area that could be served by the project and how it might procure necessary materials. The committee advised that the geographic area served may have to be reduced due to the funding constraints.

If the area must be reduced, business applications for the project may become void.

Committee members suggested that business applicants for the project be advised of the continuing delay and the possibility of voided applications.

The recommendations will be further discussed at a Oct. 19 meeting after which committee members will provide further recommendations to the council.

URGENCY

The City Council voted to follow the recommendations set by the committee and city staff, but took issue with some of the wording in the recommendations.

Part of the recommendation said, “since there is no urgency to proceed, revisit market conditions, procurement options, and consider a reduction to the geographic area to be served if necessary.”

Council members disagreed about the urgency. Mayor Rich Elliott said council members still see the project as a priority.

Council member Bruce Tabb said the project still maintains a sense of urgency, because it is key to economic development for the city.

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