Becker Pleads With City Council Not to Trust Bach's Financials
The following was read (a few edits have been made) by Brian Becker at the City Council Meeting on 7/19/2010:
My name is Brian Becker and I own and operate Poplar Bluff Internet, dba semo.net, at 1877 N Westwood Blvd.
This afternoon at the Municipal Utilities Advisory Board it was voted by the members to recommend to you this evening to end Open Access. This is all predicated on the false assumption that Open Access is costing the City money.
For the document Mr. Bach showed how rates were calculated, see City Council Votes To End Open Access and Kick semo.net, TCMax & Big River off the Cable Plant
The actual facts do NOT support that assumption. The numbers in front of you, however, will.
Losing Open Access will be terrible for my company, of course. But it will also be terrible for the citizens of Poplar Bluff and turn MyCityCable into a monopoly.
Even today, Mr. Bagby said he wished that today’s meeting could be held without me present because it isn’t fair for me to be involved in the discussions or to see the City Cable’s financials. I feel that type of mentality is very dangerous for our city.
I’m asking you to reject this proposal because there is NO proof that Open Access is costing the City money. Open Access is GOOD for this city. It is good for competition. It is good for me and my customers. It is good for our citizens.
In addition to ending Open Access, you are being presented tonight with a set of financial numbers that have no factual support. Those numbers are not the result of an accountant or business consultant. They have been crafted by Mr. Bach, to prove Mr. Bach’s point.
The numbers you have before you disregard that the city built a cable plant and after that plant was complete, [the city] decided to enhance the network with Internet capability. Totally disregarding history, the proposed $5.5m internet plant cost is fictitious.
In addition to rewriting history, according to the MU Advisory Board and Bill Bach, the ISPs should pay to rebuild the network EVERY month. Bach’s proposed numbers take a one-time capital cost and charges it to each ISP every month. His capital costs are never divided out over 12, 24 or 36 months, he charges for them EVERY MONTH. Anyone with any degree of sanity can look at this and see this is wrong on every level.
On top of that, the $2.5m of Operations and Maintenance Expense is a totally manufactured number as well. These numbers so distorts reality and place much of the daily costs of running City Cable onto the back of “Internet Costs” – including Amortization, Depreciation and Bond Payback…which should not be included in these numbers since Mr. Bach already including calculations for $5.5 million in Capital Expense. You can’t charge us for the capital and then charge us for the deprecation of that capital [added remainder of paragragh] and then the loan payback of that capital! That is paying for the same thing three times! Mr. Bach has invented “Triple Dipping”!
I would like to acknowledge and thank Tucker Davis, the Chairman of Municipal Utilities Advisory Board, who was the only sane voice during today’s Advisory Board meeting and the sole descent vote on BOTH of the items before you today.
After the Advisory Board meeting I sat down with a prominent, local Certified Public Accountant and showed him Mr. Bach’s numbers and he confirmed that Mr. Bach has not used any known accounting principles in his calculations.
I plead with this City Council to disregard the advice of the Municipal Utilities Advisory Board.
Find an expert, without a motive
Find an expert who knows accounting & business principles
Find an expert who won’t present numbers created to make his point
I’d be happy to be a part of any task force this council would approve to delve into the costs and benefits of Open Access for the citizens of Poplar Bluff.