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Gainesville and Hall set to agree on fiber optics deal
Governments to share the costs of communication lines
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Gainesville City Council meeting

What: Final vote on agreement to share costs of fiber optic installation with Hall County
When: 5:30 p.m. Tuesday
Where: Municipal Courtroom, Public Safety Complex, 701 Queen City Parkway, Gainesville

What is fiber optics?

Fiber optics is a technology that uses glass or plastic thread to transmit electronic communication. Fiber typically can transmit information faster than metal cable. Greg Leach, IT manager for the city of Gainesville, said fiber optics would increase the speed of city network access for the fire station and reclamation facility, which currently uses an outside vendor for Internet service and network services. Simply sending an email will be "night and day" for the employees who work there, he said.


There's a history between Hall County and the city of Gainesville of having intergovernmental agreements often turn into disagreements.

Despite that history, Hall County and Gainesville are nearing an agreement to share costs in improving communication lines to their respective facilities.

Officials with both governments say the project is beneficial to everyone. Still, some elected officials are expressing some suspicion given past and current disagreements.

The project, if approved, will connect the county's proposed headquarters at the Liberty Mutual building with electronic communication at its other facilities.

Likewise, Gainesville is looking to improve its network communication to the Flat Creek Water Reclamation Facility and Fire Station No. 4.

On Tuesday, Gainesville City Council will vote on whether to approve the intergovernmental agreement to jointly pay for the fiber optic cable lines. The Hall County Board of Commissioners approved the agreement earlier this month.

The project seems likely to pass.

Assistant City Manager Angela Sheppard said, "Both parties are saving money by doing this." Councilman George Wangemann called it "an obvious win-win."

Still that didn't stop Danny Dunagan, the city's mayor pro-tem, from taking a few jabs at Hall County's commitment to agreements when discussing the project Thursday at a work session.

During that meeting, Sheppard noted that both parties would share the cost for any repairs to the cable, but Gainesville would be responsible for finding the contract for fixing them.

Dunagan, who admitted he's a little sore from other agreements with the county, quipped, "We need to get a deposit check to make sure we get paid for the repairs."

Dunagan said he wasn't serious about collecting a deposit, just making light of the sometimes contentious relationship between the city and county.

"I like to cut up every now and then," he said, "but (the agreement) is going to be good for both parties."

When the deal was introduced to the Hall County commission, Commissioner Craig Lutz said he was concerned the county was agreeing to use more cable than it needed.

Although the project and the wire would belong to the city, Hall County would be leasing and paying for installation based on the amount of cable being used.

"I was afraid we would have been overpaying for the installation," he said.

In the deal is approved by Hall commissioners, the city will use 84 of the first 144 strands installed and the county would have the rest.

Though Lutz voted for the deal, he said he still wasn't sure if the county saved money.

"Sometimes things get negotiated for you," he said. "I don't know that we had much time we had to dig in and make changes for it."

Bids for the project, whether the deal is approved by Gainesville City Council or not, are due in January.

The fiber optics cable will begin at the city data center at the downtown Administration Building and run to a splice point at the intersection of Jesse Jewell Parkway and Browns Bridge Road.

From there, cable will be divided to the city's Flat Creek Water Reclamation Facility and Fire Station No. 4.

Some cable will also be run to McEver Road and Browns Bridge Road to improve the traffic signal.

The county's portion of the fiber will run to the Liberty Mutual building on Browns Bridge Road.