The Telecommunications Act of 1995 opens up many markets for
companies large and small, and St. Peters is trying to determine
how to regulate the competition.
The city's administration has been advocating three ordinances
that would establish guidelines and set regulations for any utility
company doing business in St. Peters.
Dick Shoemaker of GTE says all municipalities will be facing
this issue because of the national deregulation of the
telecommunications industry. Cities are going to be inundated with
requests for access to the public rights of way. Some form of
regulation is needed.
"Our position is: Do it and do it right," Shoemaker said. "We
don't want the city using this as a bargaining tool to get free
service. Legally, we can't offer that."
Both GTE and Southwestern Bell have service areas in St.
Peters. Both companies have major problems with a bill that
establishes "procedures and requirements relating to public and
private telecommunications franchises to ensure that construction
of facilities in, along, under and over public rights of way and
other public rights of way by telecommunication entities are
consistent with and serve the public interest."
This bill is a 29-page document written by Leland B. Curtis,
who is with a law firm in Clayton.
Two other lengthy bills deal with access to the rights of way
for all utility companies, including Union Electric and Laclede
Gas, and with the city's request for detailed information on all
access lines and all future lines, including the digitalization of
these by the year 2000.
Representatives of the utility companies met with five members
of the Board of Aldermen and five other city officials in a
seven-hour session last weekend to try to reach some agreements.
"Nothing was really resolved," said Betty Woelfel, president of
the Board of Aldermen. "Leland Curtis seemed to think we made good
progress, but there are a lot of unresolved issues."
City Administrator Robert Irvin said he hoped the aldermen
could consider the bill dealing with rights of way at this week's
meeting, but Woelfel said that was impossible. She was in favor of
tabling any action on all three bill.
William B. Bobnar, an attorney representing Union Electric, has
been involved in these discussions for at least six months. He said
there was a good exchange of information at Saturday's meeting.
"My feeling is there is almost too much information to digest,"
With three complicated proposals before them, the aldermen
asked for Saturday's session to see whether they could have a
better understanding of the issues. City administrative officials
have been explaining why they need these new ordinances, and the
aldermen have listened to the utility companies explain that these
regulations are unfair and expensive and that the costs would be
passed on to their customers, residents of St. Peters.
GTE serves about 15,000 customers in St. …