HUDSON — Officials are reviewing a franchise agreement with Mid-Hudson Cablevision for the company to provide cable services in the city for the next 15 years.
Representatives from Mid-Hudson Cablevision, chief engineer Dave Fingar and administrative coordinator Rachel Puckett answered questions about the agreement at the Economic Development Committee of the Common Council meeting May 17.
Under the agreement, Mid-Hudson Cablevision, which is headquartered in Catskill, would continue to pay a 3 percent franchise fee to the city based on the number of active subscribers, according to the draft agreement.
For example, a monthly bill totaling $89.95 would require a franchise fee of $2.57 to be paid to the city. Revenue collected from the fee would go into the city’s general fund, Economic Development Committee Chairman Rich Volo said.
Municipalities are entitled to a maximum of 5 percent of gross revenues derived from the operation of the cable system for the provision of cable services under the Federal Cable Act.
The franchise fee percentage is applied specifically to cable services and is determined by the number of subscribers in the city, Fingar said. Internet or one-time charges, such as installations, do not have a franchise fee, Puckett said.
The city of Hudson has 719 internet-only subscribers, 46 internet and phone subscribers, 522 cable and internet subscribers and 325 cable-only subscribers, according to data from Mid-Hudson Cablevision.
The agreement is nonexclusive, meaning the city could contract with other companies for cable services, Fingar said.
“Like any business, when we go to the bank to borrow money, and they say, ‘What’s your relationship with Hudson? How do we know you’re going to be here?’” Fingar said. “And we say, ‘Well, we have a 15-year franchise with the city of Hudson. It [the agreement] is of value to us.”
A 15-year agreement is a standard and recommended contract under the state Public Service Commission, Puckett said.
Mid-Hudson Cablevision is working with the Columbia County Chamber of Commerce to develop a plan to provide citywide Wi-Fi, which was a project slated for state funding under the state’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative Grant.
The $10 million grant was awarded by the state in August to fund economic development projects near Hudson’s waterfront.
“Basically, it allows for local content,” Chamber CEO Jeffrey Hunt said at the May 17 meeting. “The Wi-Fi we are proposing would allow you to send a resume online. It is not robust enough for you to be able to stream [music or video], but the Wi-Fi would be able to send an email or resume.
“If you don’t have internet at home, you would be able to use city Wi-Fi.”
While reviewing the agreement, Mid-Hudson Cablevision discovered several city departments, including the police department, which qualify for nonprofit reduced cable rates, have not received a reduced rate on their monthly bills, Puckett said.
Those departments will soon receive the reduced rate, she said.
The city’s contract with Mid-Hudson Cablevision remains under review by the Economic Development Committee, which will meet 6 p.m. June 21 at City Hall in the Common Council Chambers.
The contract will go before a public hearing before it is signed. A date for public the hearing has not been set.
*Editor's note: This story corrects an earlier version. The city's agreement with Mid-Hudson Cablevision is about cable services in Hudson for the next 15 years and does not include internet service.
To reach reporter Amanda J. Purcell, call 518-828-1616, or send an email to email@example.com, or tweet to @amandajpurcell.