eliminates the broadband sustainability fee and requires funds in the
Broadband Sustainability Fund (BSF) within the ConnectME Authority
(ConnectME) to be used to support and promote broadband service in unserved
or underserved areas. ConnectME is a legally separate entity from the State
and is a component unit of the State that is not funded using state funds.
Under current law, 95% of the funds from this fee go to the BSF and 5% go to
the ConnectME Fund. Eliminating the broadband sustainability fee will reduce
revenue to the two funds at ConnectME by an estimated $350,000 in fiscal year
2015-16, $900,000 in fiscal year 2016-17 and $750,000 in fiscal year 2017-18.
Under current law, this fee will end on December 31, 2017. There is currently
$343,728 in the BSF, but ConnectME has indicated that the BSF will have a
substantially smaller balance before this bill becomes law due to certain
companies requesting disbursements from the BSF as allowed under current law.
There is a Superior Court case pending concerning delinquent broadband
sustainability fee payments owed to ConnectME. ConnectME estimates a $320,000
judgment if ConnectME prevails in the court case. This $320,000 would not be
disbursed to certain companies if the case is resolved after the bill becomes
law and that additional revenue could potentially be available to support and
promote broadband service in unserved or underserved areas.