In accordance with N.C.G.S. 143.318.12(b)(2), notice is hereby given of a Special Meeting of the Morganton City Council to be held on Monday, May 1, 2017, 3:30 p.m. to receive an update on the status of the CoMPAS restructuring from Dave Stockton, consultant. No action will be taken at this meeting.
The meeting will be held in the Conference Room 4 of City Hall located at 305 East Union Street, Suite A100, Morganton NC 28655
This the 25th day of April, 2017.
Ronnie Thompson, Mayor
For more information, you may contact Sally Sandy, City Manager, at 438-5230 or Kelly Russell, Assistant City Clerk, at 438-5228.
Conference Room 4
May 1, 2017
Ronnie Thompson, Mayor
John H. Cantrell )
Forrest A. Fleming ) Councilmen
Sidney Simmons )
Vacant Seat )
Sally W. Sandy, City Manager
Louis E. Vinay, Jr., City Attorney
Others in attendance included: Greg Branch, IRMS/CoMPAS; Randy Loop, CoMPAS, Dave Stockton, Uptown Services; Karen Duncan, Finance Director; Michael Chapman, Purchasing; Sonja Marston, Assistant City Manager.
I. Call to Order – The Mayor called the Special Meeting to order at 3:37 p.m. in Conference Room 4 of City Hall. The City Manager stated the meeting purpose was to receive an update on the status of the CoMPAS restructuring.
Dave Stockton gave an overview of the meeting held one-year ago. He stated there were a few themes that kept coming up; the biggest question was CoMPAS being run as a cable system and should there be more focus on internet. Stockton stated that growth is in internet with video streaming, gaming etc. is fueling the need for faster internet speed.
At the meeting one-year ago, Stockton shared six tactical steps that would quickly improve short term cash flow performance. He stated that five of the steps have been completed. Stockton showed a chart with the results that have come about due to those changes. He stated there has been a 20% increase in income compared to FY 2016. He stated that internet usage increased 23% in the past 12 months. Internet service is now 54% of the total system contribution.
Stockton stated that voice increased 4% in the last 12 months by renegotiating wholesale fees. He stated that in the video area the contribution increased 12% and that video is now 30% of total system contribution. He stated that he feels CoMPAS has “turned the corner”.
Mayor Thompson asked if there was a time when video would bottom out. Stockton stated video/cable will continue to erode for everyone. He stated he would like to see video stabilize and not be a drain on the CoMPAS system.
The Mayor asked if there were plans to upgrade the video/cable equipment. The City Manager stated that some equipment upgrades, like the DNCS, were necessary. Greg Branch stated they were looking at options to manage upgrades. Stockton stated that while video was not growing, it doesn’t make sense to rock the boat too much.
The Mayor asked if internet use could increase to 60% of system contribution. Stockton stated it could; there will be a marketing plan to be rolled out later in the year.
Councilman Cantrell stated that those in the business community who use CoMPAS seem to be very pleased with the service. Councilman Cantrell asked what will keep CoMPAS running when there is a glitch. Branch stated CoMPAS has made a few changes with broadband; one of his future goals is to have a backup connection. Branch stated he realizes it is critical for businesses to have reliable internet.
Randy Loop stated that even if something does happen there are other options such as rerouting the customers.
Councilman Fleming asked what percent of internet service is business. Branch stated he thought it was about 13.5%. If CoMPAS has fiber lines near a business they will send a letter outlining what CoMPAS can offer; since July they have 12 new fiber customers and are looking to install five new customers soon.
The City Manager stated that last year we talked about an aggressive marketing plan, but Greg and Randy have been working on cleaning up problems and making sure we have the best possible service ready prior to beginning advertising.
Mayor Thompson asked if it was within the realm of possibility that Morganton could become a gig city. Stockton stated that it is a fair amount of work and there is a cost. He stated it was definitely something he could see for Morganton’s future, but not in the near future.
Councilman Fleming asked how CoMPAS could become more competitive in regard to bundle pricing. Greg stated that as we grow internet we will be able to have more competitive prices; it’s still a challenge currently.
The City Manager stated that retransmission agreements are about at the end of the three year period. Stockton stated there might be a co-op type agreement with other entities which the City may choose to “buy into”.
Councilman Simmons stated that his own experience is they are doing much better including the contract workers. Branch stated they have received a lot of compliments on the contract workers.
Councilman Fleming stated his biggest concern is the cost increases each year. Triple play bundles are dropping according to Stockton, many are moving away from bundles.
Stockton stated a good time to jump into marketing is late summer, possibly with a promotional offer. Stockton stated he felt CoMPAS was a good value for the money. Branch stated he did not feel AT&T could compete, except at the beginning with gift cards promotions and the like.
Councilman Cantrell asked about the trucks he’s seen in the Carbon City area. Branch stated it was Ridgelink which is part of Blue Ridge Electric.
Branch stated that Belvidere (off Piedmont Road) residents have been begging CoMPAS to provide service, but according to state law CoMPAS cannot serve outside the municipal boundaries.
The City Manager stated the difficulty in getting service to rural areas will be similar to electric co-ops. Some subsidy will be needed to get that started like when electric began.
The Mayor asked about the next steps. The City Manager stated staff would be looking at the budget numbers during the upcoming budget meetings. She stated this was always planned to be an 18-24 month process and CoMPAS has been moving in the right direction.
Stockton stated that there has been a lot of operational progress. He stated a next step would be designing the marketing campaign to roll out in late August/early September.
Councilman Cantrell asked if the technical team was fully-staffed. Branch stated that Jon was back and Adam was coming back on light duty. He stated part that has made the biggest difference has been having the contractors which has allowed employees to do maintenance in the plant.
The City Manager asked if everyone felt comfortable with the direction CoMPAS is moving. The Council was in agreement that everything has been going well.
Councilman Cantrell asked Stockton if we would continue contracting with him. Stockton stated he has fulfilled his current agreement and would consider continued work with the City.
II. Adjournment – The meeting was adjourned at 4:44 p.m.
Preparation of Minutes. These minutes were prepared by Mikela D. Russell, Assistant City Clerk. Copies of all resolutions, ordinances and orders referenced in these minutes are intended to be incorporated into these minutes as if fully set forth herein. Prior to including them into the official minute book, the minutes have been read and approved by the City Manager and the City Attorney, then distributed to each member of the City Council for further review and final approval, at a subsequent Council Meeting.