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Cook County OKs 1% money to Arrowhead broadband

High-speed internet
High-speed internet

The Cook County Board of Commissioners Tuesday signed an agreement to designate $4 million in 1% sales tax dollars to help finance Arrowhead Electric Coop’s broadband build-out.

The agreement recognized Arrowhead’s receipt of an aggregate amount of $16,137,484 under the federal Broadband Initiative Program. The money is designated for building broadband infrastructure in the areas of Cook County served by the Arrowhead and Grand Marais electric utilities.

The county board agreed with Arrowhead’s request that their project meets the requirements of the sales tax language passed by voters in 2009. The law and subsequent referendum specifically states part of the sales tax is to be used for “the construction and improvement of a county-wide high-speed communications infrastructure network.”

The $4 million in sales tax money will be used to fill in deficiencies in the federal funding in order to complete the project by the end of 2013 due date.

According to County Attorney Tim Scannell, who drafted the agreement, there are safeguards in the language. Among other things, the county will forward sales tax funds only after they receive documentation that the work billed has been completed satisfactorily. Progress is also reported on a regular basis to the Rural Utilities Service, administrator of the federal grant and loan to Arrowhead.