The Nevada State Senate’s Committee on Government Affairs heard testimony on recently regarding changes that would give Churchill County Commissioners more control over the local telephone company, CC Communications.
General Manager Mark Feest said Senate Bill 109 would bring the county-owned telephone company into the 21st century and keep CC Communications on a more solid basis.
He said the original bill governing county-owned telephone systems in Nevada goes back more than 100 years ago. CC Communications, which began as Churchill County Telephone, celebrated its centennial last autumn.
Joint sponsors of the bill are State Sen. James Settelmeyer and District 38 Assemblywoman Robin Titus. The Senate passed the bill earlier this month, 19-0, but no vote has been scheduled in the Assembly.
“The state allows the county to own a phone company, but there has not been a lot of update to it,” he said. “The current process does not align with how a phone company is bought and sold.”
Feest emphasized the phone company is not for sale but added that other independent rural telephone companies across the United States have been gobbled up by corporations or merged with other companies.
“The issue is happening a lot in rural areas where companies are being merged or sold,” Feest said, adding that SB 109 gives more protection to Nevada’s rural independent telephone companies.
Under the current law, if the county were to sell or lease the phone company, then Churchill County voters would be required to vote on the deal. Currently, Feest said it would be hard to consummate a deal.
Under language in the proposed bill, the county commissioners would be able to negotiate a sale or lease in closed session. Furthermore, Feest said amended language in Section 4 states commissioners would not be obligated to accept the highest bid based on the return of investment to the county.
“The commissioners will make the best deal for the county,” Feest said
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