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Orleans supports state tax credits to expand high-speed Internet

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 29 August 2013 at 12:00 am

ALBION – The Orleans County Legislature is officially supporting a state proposal to encourage broadband Internet in underserved areas by offering tax credits to residents and businesses that pay to help extend the service.

State legislation has been introduced to provide a 100 percent refundable tax credit over five years for out-of-pocket expenses paid by residents, small business owners and municipalities that go towards construction of a high-speed Internet network.

Legislators unanimously voted to support the state proposal, despite objections from Paul Lauricella, a member of the Orleans County Conservative Party. Lauricella of Lyndonville said residents and businesses should pay to bring the service to their locations without state incentives.

“Have businesses save up and buy it themselves,” Lauricella said.

Service providers have avoided sparsely populated areas due to the costs of running the cable to few customers. That has put businesses and residents at a competitive disadvantage because they can not download some software and information for their businesses. Students are unable to access some web sites and residents often can not fill out online applications without high-speed Internet.

“It’s important for the economic development of our county,” Chuck Kinsey, the former county computer services director, said in response to Lauricella. “Communities with technology grow faster.”

County and town officials have been brainstorming how to bring the service to the rural pockets of the county, where there are gaps in service. Local government leaders are looking at wireless Internet or WiFi for those areas.

U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand was in rural Western New York on Wednesday stopping at an Attica farm to tout a Broadband Loan Program. That would offer grants and funding for providers to extend Broadband to rural areas where an estimated 1.1 million New Yorkers currently do not have access to the service.