Marion renews contract with Comcast

Marion renews contract with Comcast

Mayor hopes deal will allow city to get commitment on improved service from cable and internet provider

Marion has agreed to renew its franchise fee agreement with Comcast with the condition that the company extends its infrastructure to new subdivisions in a more timely manner.

The council approved the agreement which raises the franchise fee from three percent to five percent. A cable television franchise fee is an annual fee charged by a local government to a private cable television company as compensation for using public property it owns as right-of-way for its cable.

“It’s not a whole lot different from what we’ve done in the past,” said Mayor Frank Fogleman.

Fogleman suggested the city get tougher though with Comcast about keeping its infrastructure current to provide the service to new residential sections of the city.

“In the past, somebody will buy a house in a new subdivision or street extension and they can’t get service,” Fogleman said.

“So this may be a good time to extract some sort of commitment from them.

They haven’t been very diligent. It takes a lot to get them to do it. So it has crossed my mind to speak to them to extract a great attention to it.”

Fogleman said Comcast has in the past focused more attention on areas that have greater growth potential and neglected other customers in less populated spots like Gammon road.

“It was pretty testy to get them,” Fogleman said.

“They finally came around and did it.”

“It took months, years,” added Councilman Bryan Jackson.

“Others have been addressed more quickly — not within days. I’d say within weeks,” Fogleman said. “Maybe even with a month.”

City Attorney James “Jimbo” Hale said according to the contract the franchise area includes all of incorporated Marion and any areas annexed during the time of the contract.

Councilman Don Hanks said his home was the first to be built in the back of his subdivision and was told he had to wait to get service until 10 or 15 homes were built before they would come in and install the service.

“They gave me the run around too,” Hanks said. “I said the box is next door on an easement. I said, ‘Can we just lay 500 feet of cable for four or five years before you put it under ground? After calling everyone in the corporation, a guy came out and looked at it. I said, ‘see how easy it is?’ He said ‘yeah, it’s a no-brainer.’ They sent a truck out and did it. But I had to jump through hoops.”

Fogleman reminded the council that they have recently approved a new subdivision by developer Matt Hale that will need cable and Internet service.

“He’s capable of putting in the wiring they need,” Fogleman said. “They turned him down in the past because Matt had a different street. So it crossed my mind to extract some kind of further commitment from them to be more diligent about extending the infrastructure.”

By Mark Randall