UC2B Organizer: Urbana ‘Jumping Gun’ with GM
One of the main organizers behind the Champaign-Urbana’s big broadband project says Urbana is jumping the gun with its desire to hire a general manager.
The University of Illinois’ Mike Smeltzer is responding to part of a resolution approved by the Urbana City Council this week.
He contends that such a person would only be needed when more is determined about UC2B’s organizational structure. Smeltzer said Champaign Economic Development Manager Teri Legner is handling those duties right now, and should, since Champaign is the project’s lead agency.
"It seems a little silly for the city of Champaign to hire a second person to do the job they've already assigned to an existing employee," he said. "Long term, I think they're also jumping the gun it terms of the organizational structure of UC2B. Today, it's an intergovernmental consortium with three members. In the future, it may become something else."
Smeltzer said it could make sense to hire a general manager if UC2B becomes a non-profit organization.
Urbana alderwoman Diane Marlin said she is not trying to criticize what people like Smeltzer are doing, but believes UC2B customers need a single point person they can contact.
"I very much respect everything Champaign is doing, yes they're the lead agency," she said. "But they've got a lot on their plate, and a lot to handle with the rest of the build out. I think having a manager on board is a responsible way to go as providing the kind of customer service that we need to be doing."
Smeltzer confirms that a handful of homes in Champaign just west of Wright Street went on line this week.
Urbana’s resolution is expected to go before the Champaign City Council soon.