The Vermont Statutes Online
The Vermont Statutes Online have been updated to include the actions of the 2023 session of the General Assembly.
NOTE: The Vermont Statutes Online is an unofficial copy of the Vermont Statutes Annotated that is provided as a convenience.
§ 8084. Vermont Community Broadband Board
(a) Vermont Community Broadband Board.
(1) There is created within the Department of Public Service the Vermont Community Broadband Board. The Board shall have approval authority with respect to budget development, program design, grant awards, and all other funding allocations pursuant to this chapter.
(2) The Board shall consist of five members as follows:
(A) two members appointed by the Governor who shall not be employees or officers of the State at the time of the appointment and at least one of whom shall have expertise in the area of finance and one of whom shall be selected by the Governor to serve as the Chair;
(B) one member appointed by the Speaker of the House who shall not be a member of the General Assembly at the time of the appointment and who shall have expertise in the area of broadband deployment in rural, high-cost areas;
(C) one member appointed by the Senate Committee on Committees who shall not be a member of the General Assembly at the time of the appointment and who shall have expertise in the area of communications and electric utility law and policy; and
(D) one member appointed by the Vermont Communications Union District Association.
(3) The members may not be persons with a financial interest in or owners, employees, or members of a governing board of an Internet service provider or a communications union district; however, this provision shall not be construed to disqualify a member who has ownership in a mutual fund, exchange-traded fund, pension plan, or similar entity that owns shares in such enterprises as part of a broadly diversified portfolio. Members shall serve terms of three years beginning on February 1 of the year of appointment; however, the members first appointed by the Governor shall serve initial terms of four years, the member first appointed by the Speaker of the House shall serve an initial term of three years, and the member first appointed by the Committee on Committees shall serve an initial term of two years. A vacancy shall be filled by the respective appointing authority for the balance of the unexpired term. A member may be reappointed. A member may be removed for cause only.
(4) At its initial organizational meeting, and annually thereafter at the first meeting following February 1, the Board shall elect from among its members a vice chair. The Board may elect officers as it may determine. Meetings shall be held at the call of the Chair or at the request of two members. A majority of sitting members shall constitute a quorum, and action taken by the Board under the provisions of this chapter may be authorized by a majority of the members present and voting at any regular or special meeting.
(5) Members are entitled to a per diem in the amount of $250.00 for each day spent in the performance of their duties and each member shall be reimbursed for his or her reasonable expenses incurred in carrying out his or her duties under this chapter.
(6) The Board shall have all the powers necessary and convenient to carry out and effectuate the purposes and provisions of this chapter, including the power to:
(A) coordinate and facilitate community broadband efforts;
(B) provide resources to communications union districts in the form of administrative and technical support;
(C) provide grants for the preconstruction and construction costs of broadband projects;
(D) facilitate partnerships between communications union districts and their potential partners;
(E) develop policies or recommend to the General Assembly programs that promote a strong communications workforce in Vermont;
(F) develop policies or recommend to the General Assembly programs that promote access to affordable broadband service plans;
(G) consult with the Vermont Economic Development Board and the Vermont Municipal Bond Bank with regard to financing community broadband projects;
(H) identify and publish State, federal, nonprofit, and any other broadband funding opportunities;
(I) contract for a comprehensive, statewide fiber-optic engineering design to identify strategies that maximize fiber-optic buildout efficiency and ensure resiliency and interoperability of all existing fiber-optic networks built with public or ratepayer funds, and that takes into consideration all proposed publicly funded fiber-optic projects, the development of which shall not be required or impede the disbursement of grants under this chapter;
(J) provide input to the Department of Public Service on the development of the State’s Telecommunications Plan; and
(K) do any and all things necessary or convenient to effectuate the purposes and provisions of this chapter and to carry out its purposes and exercise the powers given and granted in this chapter.
(7) The Department shall provide the Board with administrative services.
(8) All meetings of the Board shall be open to the public and conducted in accordance with the Vermont Open Meeting Law. All records of the Board are subject to the Vermont Public Records Act. Any records or information produced or acquired by the Board that are trade secrets or confidential business information shall be exempt from public inspection and copying pursuant to 1 V.S.A. § 317(c)(9).
(b) Executive Director.
(1) The Vermont Community Broadband Fund shall have an Executive Director. The initial Executive Director shall be appointed by the Governor with the advice and consent of the Senate, and subsequent executive directors shall be hired by the Board. The Executive Director shall be an employee of the Department of Public Service. The Executive Director shall be overseen and managed by the Board and shall serve as its chief administrative officer. The Executive Director shall direct and supervise the Board’s administrative affairs and technical activities in accordance with Board policies. In addition to any other duties necessary for carrying out the purposes of this chapter, the Executive Director shall:
(A) work with the Board in developing and implementing the programs established by this chapter;
(B) approve all accounts of the Board, including accounts for salaries, per diems, and allowable expenses of any employee or consultant thereof and expenses incidental to the operation of the Board;
(C) make recommendations to the Board for grant awards or other forms of financial or technical assistance authorized by this chapter;
(D) make an annual report to the Board documenting the actions of the Board and such other reports as the Board may request; and
(E) perform such other duties as may be directed by the Board in the carrying out of the purposes and provisions of this chapter.
(2) The Executive Director may retain or employ technical experts and other officers, agents, employees, and contractors as are necessary to give effect to the purposes of this chapter, including in the areas of finance, network planning, engineering and technical design, and grant writing, and may fix their qualifications, duties, and compensation. The Executive Director shall oversee and manage the Rural Broadband Technical Assistance Specialist created in subsection 7523(b) of this title. The Executive Director is authorized to hire additional full-time employees pursuant to this subdivision who shall be part of the classified service created in 3 V.S.A. chapter 13.
(c) Administration. The Fund shall be administered by the Department. The Department is authorized to expend monies from the Fund in accordance with this chapter. The Commissioner shall make all decisions necessary to implement this chapter and administer the Fund except those decisions committed to the Board under this section. The Department shall ensure an open public process in the administration of the Fund for the purposes established in this chapter.
(d) Grant administration redesignation. The Board shall be redesignated as the responsible entity for administering the $1,000,000.00 grant award to the Department of Public Service by the Northern Border Regional Commission for the purpose of supporting communications union districts. Any position funded by the grant shall be overseen and managed by the Board in a manner that is consistent with grant terms and conditions. (Added 2021, No. 71, § 2, eff. June 8, 2021.)