Cumberland Times-News

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January 29, 2013

Mayor fails in attempt to stop cable increases

CUMBERLAND — A letter sent to Atlantic Broadband by Mayor Brian Grim trying to prevent increases for basic cable services was rejected by the cable giant who plans to increase rates across the board on area customers April 1.

“I signed a letter to Atlantic Broadband asking them to consider the impact the increase will have on folks in our area with limited incomes,” Grim said Tuesday at the regular meeting of the city council.

“But they said they will hold to the fee increases, citing increased costs in programming and operating expenses,” said Grim.

“The mayor asked them to hold the line on basic services for cable and Internet for people on fixed income,” said City Administrator Jeff Rhodes after the meeting.

Atlantic Broadband replied to Grim’s letter stating that programming costs for popular stations like CNN, FOX News, ABC, NBC and MSNBC have all gone up for them.

“Most of the increases fall in the 2 to 5 percent range,” said Rhodes.

Although the hikes by Atlantic Broadband will cover nearly all of its services, here are a few of the increases: Basic cable will go from $14.94 to $15.46; Local phone with video or Internet will go from $19.99 to $24.99; Starter Internet from $35.95 to $36.99; Cable modem lease up to $7 from $6.

Premium packages for HBO, Showtime and Cinemax (for any two) will go from $32.95 to $34.95. Carrying all three premium channels will see a cost increase from $44.95 to $49.95.

The restructuring of debt carried on the city’s books required the council to approve a $3.2 million increase to the expense budget.

“We received revenue from refinancing, but you still have the expenses to pay it off on the debt side,” said  Rhodes.

“Just like you do when you refinance your house,” added Rhodes.

The city has been refinancing older debt with higher rates to take advantage of current lower rates.

Rhodes reported that the city currently has a $1.9 million surplus fund balance.

The city announced a fee increase for use of the pavilions at Constitution Park for the upcoming summer season. The large pavilions will increase from $85 to $90 with the small pavilions raising from $65 to $70.

An easement agreement with the Ali Ghan Shriners Holding Corp. and Willison Oil Inc. was granted for the construction of a water line in the vicinity of Ali Ghan Road.

The council also approved the purchase of a 2011 GMC Sierra 1500 truck from Timbrook Automotive in the amount of $22,920 to replace a badly deteriorated truck.

Greg Larry can be contacted at glarry@times-news.com.

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