Yesterday I had the pleasure of speaking at LSI’s Deployment of Wireless Facilities Conference, held in Atlanta, Georgia.
I spoke on the FCC’s implementation of Section 6409(a) of the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 (commonly but inaccurately called the “Spectrum Act,” a term that never appeared in the the MDTRJCA). However, this post is not about my lecture, during which I raised some interesting questions for carriers and tower companies to ponder under the general heading of ‘be careful what you wish for.’
After I spoke, the next panel included the Honorable Don Parsons of the Georgia House of Representatives (R – Marietta, District 44). Rep. Parsons was responsible for introducing and pushing Georgia House Bill 176, which he called The Broadband Infrastructure Leads to Development Act, or the BILD Act for short.
The BILD Act is Georgia’s version of a Super 6409(a) bill, containing the following introduction:
To amend Title 36 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, relating to local government, so as to change certain provisions applicable to counties and municipal corporations related to advanced broadband collocation; to provide for a short title; to provide for definitions; to make changes related to streamlined processing; to standardize certain procedures related to 4
new wireless facilities; to place limitations on the time allowed for the review of new wireless facilities; to limit fees charged for review of wireless facilities; to provide for related matters; to repeal conflicting laws; and for other purposes.
One of the final provisions of the BILD Act contained this nugget:
36-66B-7. 170. A local governing authority shall not . . . [c]harge an applicant a zoning, permitting, or other fee for review or inspection of a collocation or modification in excess of $500.00. . .
I don’t know about your local government, but I don’t know of any local government that can properly accept, review, report, and decide a collocation application for the maximum fee of $500.00, including all inspection fees.
Essentially, Rep. Parson’s BILD Act shifted the cost of collocation applications and construction safety inspections to local governments, save for the first $500.00. This means that instead of multi-billion dollar corporations and their shareholders bearing the cost of their for-profit cell site applications and safety inspections, Rep. Parson has shifted the bulk of that burden onto the backs of Georgia taxpayers. That’s just peachy if you’re a wireless company, but not so peachy if you’re a Georgia taxpayer.
I wanted to ask Rep. Parson’s why he would give a multi-million dollar fee gift to the multi-billion dollar wireless industry at the expense of Georgia taxpayers, but time in his session ran out. Perhaps someday I’ll have the opportunity to hear Rep. Parson’s reasons to favor the wireless industry and the (real) expense of his constituents.