Letter to the editor, The Citizen, sent December 9, 2015 in response to a letter from Peachtree City Public Information Officer Betsy Tyler alleging the city’s plans were “misrepresented” by the Foundation President Kelly McCutchen and Watchdog.org reporter Chris Butler:
Peachtree City’s Public Information Officer and City Clerk, Betsy Tyler, accuses the Georgia Public Policy Foundation of being “alarmist” in questioning Peachtree City’s plan to build out a government-owned broadband internet network (“PTC’s cable plans misrepresented in story,” December 8, 2015). We admit to being alarmed that a supposedly fiscally conservative city in Metro Atlanta would engage in such a risky venture, but we are far from alarmist. The Foundation has a nearly 25 year record of defending the free enterprise system and we will not apologize for trying to stand up for taxpayers and opposing government overreach.
We do have a philosophical problem with government competing with the private sector, especially in the telecommunications space where there is a long record of financial failure and taxpayer losses. We believe government should stick to its core functions. But there are also financial concerns since the city is issuing a bond to pay for the project.
Although Ms. Tyler would like the casual observer to think otherwise, we were very thorough in our research. We closely examined Mr. Butler’s proposal and exchanged numerous in-depth emails with Ms. Tyler, Paul Salvatore and Jonathan Rorie.
Our concern continues to be that the viability of the project is contingent on revenue from private businesses. We do not base this on the conversations Mr. Davis says he had with local businesses, but on the fact that telecommunications is a very competitive market where existing vendors are unlikely to give up their customers without a fight. Putting taxpayers on the hook for millions of dollars based on wishful thinking is not fiscally conservative. The debate over what Mr. Davis said or did not say is an attempt to distract attention away from the real issue: those who support this scheme should be honest with Peachtree City citizens about their assumptions and the financial risks.
President, Georgia Public Policy Foundation