Big Broadband vote likely to be delayed by consultant's illness

Big Broadband vote likely to be delayed by consultant's illness

CHAMPAIGN — The Maryland consultant who audited the Big Broadband proposal will not attend this week’s Champaign city council meeting to field questions from council members, a city official said Monday.

Doug Dawson was ill on Monday and will not travel to Champaign for Tuesday night’s city council meeting, Information Technologies Director Fred Halenar said. His absence likely will delay a council vote on whether to accept federal grant money if those funds were awarded.

“I would think that we would ask them to postpone (a vote on the proposal),” Halenar said.

This is the second time the meeting has been postponed, and Halenar said city officials are trying to reschedule the meeting for “the very near future.”

Several council members have told The News-Gazette that they still have not determined their positions on the proposal — a project that would cost the city $1 million and establish high-speed Internet for low-income neighborhoods and 137 community buildings.

Those council members have said they still have questions for Dawson, and would like to hear from him before they vote.

The first meeting with Dawson was scheduled for two weeks ago, when officials believed the timeframe for a council decision was much tighter.

Halenar said delaying the vote should not cause a problem, as city officials have 30 days to decide whether to accept the $26 million grant upon receiving notice from the federal government that the funds have been awarded. Those involved were still waiting for a decision on Monday.