Urbana council due to reconsider cable franchise proposal

Urbana council due to reconsider cable franchise proposal

URBANA – City council members next week will again consider a proposed cable franchise agreement with Comcast, a contract that allows the cable company to operate in the city.

The Urbana City Council will meet at 7 p.m. Monday in the Urbana City Building, 400 S. Vine St.

Council members were unsure of the 10-year agreement when they last discussed it about two weeks ago, and it was unclear on Friday whether the contract is ready for a city council vote.

Alderwoman Diane Marlin, Democrat Ward 7, said she first wants to hear whether its possible to get a legal commitment in the contract for Comcast to keep its local customer service office open for some amount of time.

"I just think personal local service is important," Marlin said.

The Champaign City Council denied a similar contract with Comcast in August for a comparable reason – in that agreement, Comcast would have committed to keeping the office open for 4 1/2 of the 10 years covered by the contract. Champaign council members wanted a 10-year commitment.

A Comcast official has repeatedly told the Urbana City Council that the cable company currently has no plans to close the office.

In other business, the city council could finalize an agreement with a prospective buyer of the historic Lincoln Hotel. That agreement would give $1.45 million in special city funds over five years to Xiao Jin Yuan to assist with his planned rehabilitation of the hotel.

The city council could also take official action on a resolution that would request the county clerk to set the city's property tax rate at $1.2942 per $100 of equalized assessed valuation for next year's tax bills.

That rate is identical to Champaign's, and it is the same rate at which Urbana property owners paid this year's tax bills. The city property tax is only a portion of a homeowner's total tax bill.