Loretta Park
May 21, 2010

Even though concerns were expressed during a workshop meeting, the Layton City Council unanimously voted to approve a resolution authorizing the city to enter into an interlocal agreement to form the Utah Infrastructure Agency.

The agency will oversee the Utah Telecommunication Open Infrastructure Agency network, which provides the infrastructure for a high-speed fiber-optic network designed to enhance Internet service for businesses and homes.

City Manager Alex Jensen said during the workshop meeting held before the council meeting that the agency is similar to the Wasatch Integrated Waste Management District board, which oversees the burn plant.

Cities have representatives on that board who pledge to help the district.

“We will either sink or swim together,” Jensen said.

Councilman Scott Freitag said he was concerned about how UTOPIA decides where to put its fiber-optic network.

Jensen said opportunities have been provided for council members to learn in more detail how UTOPIA is operating, but they have not taken them, “which is frustrating.”

“It is a complex issue,” Jensen said. “Intelligent people have been working on this for a long time.”

Jensen said if the council chose not to support the interlocal agreement, he would respect that decision.

Jensen said that, when UTOPIA was formed eight years ago, it was thought the network would be built in “some sort of order.”

But now the fiber-optic network will go where it is wanted, and that will be decided by “those who pay in advance for it.”

The interlocal agreement allows for other cities to join in the future and provides for more flexibility. It also does not bind Layton financially, Jensen said.

UTOPIA came under fire earlier this week from lawmakers in Salt Lake City who wanted to know when it will no longer be operating in the red.

Howard Stephenson, of Draper, led a group of lawmakers in questioning the further use of taxpayer dollars to fund UTOPIA’s actions.

Jensen is one of the 11 members of the UTOPIA board.

Layton currently pays almost $2 million in debt payments for UTOPIA with only 1,800 homes in the city receiving the service.

Jensen said it’s the future of the city that has to be kept in mind.