The lowa Finance Authority has formulated a plan to issue about $6 million of tax-exempt revenue bonds to help pay installation costs for community colleges to tap into a statewide fiber optic telecommunications network.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Education last week granted the state $8 million over the next two years to help pay for the network, according to Alex Sachs, a spokesman for U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, who wrote the law authorizing the grant.
Ted Chapler, executive director of the finance authority, said the cost for the network was recently revised to $97 million from $85 million. He added that the state is considering the issuance of certificates of participation to supplement revenues from the $96.8 million of COPs issued in April to finance the network.
Mr. Chapler said the authority's plan is one of several options the state and 15 community colleges are considering to stem installation costs.
Joseph Borgen, president of the Des Moines Area Community College, said the network would cost his school an estimated $750,000 during its first year.
The authority's proposal, which would require legislative approval, would provide loans to the community colleges that participate in the program, Mr. Chapler said.
The 2,600-mile network would provide a communications network for all government agencies and schools in the state. Some of the colleges are expected to serve as network hubs for other users.