Gadsden County commissioners and Figgers Communications have come to an agreement, which will allow them to move forward with providing broadband internet service to residents.
County attorney Clayton Knowles said Figgers Communication will bring 2,000 wireless hot spot devices to Gadsden County every week, on Friday.
A county representative will record the devices’ serial numbers, and confirm how many devices are brought to the county.
The county entered a contract with Figgers Communication in January.
Figgers Communication began issuing wireless hot spot devices to residents on February 17.
Two days later, as Figgers Communication prepared to roll out more devices over the weekend, the county sent the company a cease and desist letter.
In an addendum to the original contract, the county and Figgers Communication agreed that Figgers communication may distribute up to 1,500 devices each Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and up to 5,000 devices each Sunday devices each Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m. during the distribution period.
The devices will be distributed to residents who will either sign for them electronically, or by paper form.
The amended contract also gives County Administrator Ed Dixon the ability to shut down operations without having to go before the board for permission.
Knowles said with the addendum, the county will now collect W-9 forms from residents receiving the hot spot devices.
“The W-9s need to be collected by the county, and also the county will need to appoint a representative who will be present when Figgers Communication brings the devices,” Knowles said.
In the previous contract their was a 50 gigabyte cap on data usage. The county previously agreed to pay $10 per additional 50 gigabytes in overage.
Figgers Communication agreed to remove overage clause from the contract.
Commissioner Anthony “Dr. V” Viegbesie said some citizens have contacted him and said they completed an application for devices on-line and have not received devices.
“Has the county validated that these items have been delivered?” Viegbesie asked.
Holt said the verification process had not taken place as of the Tuesday, April 20 meeting.
“There will be no payment until those verifications are made,” Holt said.
She added that the devices would be verified in a timely manner.
The language in the proposed addendum stated the county would verify 20 percent of the devices that had already been given out.
Commissioner Kimblin NeSmith said he thinks the county needs to verify every device, and every document as opposed to the proposed 20 percent, because at some point the county will be audited.
“Down the road, we’re going to have to answer for each device, and we want to make sure that whatever agency comes to verify this information—our documentation is in order,” NeSmith said.
Holt said Figgers Communication provided each of the board members with the information on everyone who has gotten a device, and they can be helpful by calling to confirm whether or not the residents listed actually received them.
Figgers Communication’s chief financial officer Germaine Bebe said the company understands that the county doesn’t have the staff to verify the devices in a timely manner, so they agreed to give the county full access to the database of information.
“It’ll include what we’ve already done, so at any given time, for whatever reason there is, all you have we have to do is hand over that database,” Bebe said.
The commissioner voted 4-0 to approve the addendum, after making changes that state that the county will veryify 100 percent of the devices.
Viegbesie stepped out of the meeting before the vote.
After the vote, Brown inquired about the process for remitting payment to the clerk.
“Is there a reason why it would take 30 days to submit payment to the clerk?” Brown asked the commissioners.
Knowles said it won’t necessarily be submitted on the 30th day.
“There needs to be an intervening time frame, which the county has the ability to pay—particularly in light of the late fees, particularly in light of the breach of contract issues, so it may very well get paid faster, but if it’s on the 29th day we’re still okay.
Knowles said if the county only has 5 or 10 days to remit payment, and its not done by that time, then the county would owe Figgers Communication an additional 1.5 percent of the contract amount in late fees.
Erin Hill is the editor of The Gadsden County Times, a member of the Gadsden County News Service.