The Accomack County Board of Supervisors voted to reserve up to $1.5 million of the County’s ARPA funds to serve as a local match on the FY22 regional VATI application.
VATI, or the Virginia Telecommunications Initiative, was set up to help counties to expand broadband service to areas not served by other providers.
The Eastern Shore of Virginia Broadband Authority and the VATI staff met on August 4, to discuss the authority’s upcoming grant submission. According to a report from the meeting VATI officials were overall pleased with the progress but encouraged ESVBA to expand its proposed service area with the goal of “universal” coverage on the Shore.
Universal means that the ESVBA network would be within reach of all subscribers that are not located in areas for which funds have been previously invested for broadband expansion.
County Administrator Mike Mason said that reserving $1.5 million should secure $6 million in total funding to provide needed internet service to underserved areas. Mason said that the VATI application is only a step in a multi step process and that going forward, decisions will have to be made to help make sure that areas that are considered covered actually are. Mason said that further steps to be determined will have to be taken to make sure that all areas are in reality served.
Chairman Wolfe said,”we are in a much stronger position in this VATI grant process than we were last time when the county’s application was turned down.”
The county’s first payment from ARPA totaled $3.1 million.