VCBB Town Match Program For Broadband

VCBB Town ARPA Match Program For Broadband

Broadband is an allowable use of ARPA Local Fiscal Recovery Funds Local Funding. The Vermont Community Broadband Board (VCBB) will match Town ARPA Contributions. There is also a direct connection between affordability and the ratio of grant funding to financing. Inflation and rising interest rates are increasing the expected cost for the CUDs and other eligible providers to complete network construction. This is a way to show your support, accelerate the build-out in your community, and promote affordable service for your residents.

Local Fiscal Recovery Funds are an important piece of the funding puzzle.

For those Vermont towns that elected the standard allowance for their ARPA funds, spending their money on broadband has become even simpler and easier.

Potential Uses of Local ARPA Funds:

  • Effectively address local needs and overcome obstacles unique to the town.
  • Cover the cost of drops to low-income residents, students, teachers, etc.
  • Support build-out to areas with existing service not meeting the needs of the community.
  • Lift-up an entire region and accelerate the build-out, or allow a provider to pursue innovative financing to save residents money over the long term.
  • Serve as a contribution toward the 25% match required under the Infrastructure Bill’s BEAD program for projects not in a “high-cost area.” (The NTIA has yet to define these areas.)
  • Serve as project contingency for a CUD since the deadlines for ARPA are removed for the receiving entity (CUD) if the town providing the funds elected for the standard allowance.

Pledged Match Details

  • Amount of Eligible Pledged Match
    • Pledges made after September 15, 2022 and before May 31, 2023 will be matched dollar-for-dollar up to $100,000 per town.
    • Pledges made prior to September 15, 2022 during the initial phase of the program will be matched dollar-for-dollar up to $200,000 per town.
    • The VCBB reserves the right to increase available match per town going forward and retroactively if private funding is identified to support this program.
    • The VCBB encourages towns and CUDs to seek out additional match opportunities that further multiply the impact of town-pledged ARPA funds. This could include local businesses, philanthropic organizations, or individuals.
    • Pledges received will be posted on this webpage. Pledges will be matched on a first come first served basis. Towns will be notified if the amount pledged by towns exceeds the amount currently budgeted for the program ($5 million). The VCBB reserves the right to increase the amount available for the pledge program.
  • Conditions of the Pledged Match
    • Pledges made by towns in communities that are members of a CUD must go to the CUD. 
    • Pledges made by towns that are not members of a CUD must be made in conjunction with the submission of a Universal Service Plan by an eligible provider.
    • Funds provided by the VCBB to match a town contribution may only be used in accordance with Act 71. Act 71 requires service of 100/100 Mbps and only allows “incidental” overbuild of areas with wireline service of at least 25/3 Mbps. This limitation does not impact the funds provided by towns.
    • To be matched, the town must be included in a Universal Service Plan that provides all underserved address with service of at least 100/100 Mbps to all underserved addresses. The CUD or eligible provider must also have submitted an Act 71-compliant business plan. Both are required before funds can be matched.
    • Town funds pledged as match must be transferred to the CUD or other eligible provider, or investments must be made in consultation with the CUD.
    • Town pledges must be documented to the VCBB before the program sunsets on June 30, 2023.
    • The VCBB will not provide the match until the funds are transferred from the town to the CUD or other eligible applicant.
    • Any disputes arising will be settled by the VCBB on the advice of the staff.
       
  • Eligible Uses of Funds.
    • Use of match funds provided by the VCBB must comply with all rules governing the funding source and Act 71. Funds the VCBB provides as match must be used in a manner compliant with Act 71. 
    • CUDs and towns are encouraged to be creative in deploying these funds. If the standard allowance was elected by the town, this could include using funds to leverage other federal programs or creative financing instruments including the buying down of interest rates, letters of credit, and revolving loan funds for the purpose of expanding broadband of speeds of at least 100/100 Mbps.

How to Apply
The following information must be submitted electronically to vcbb.grants@vermont.gov:

1) Letter From Town or Copy of Any Contractual Agreement
To qualify for the VCBB match, a CUD or other eligible provider must provide a letter from the contributing community detailing the information below and/or a contractual agreement between the CUD or other eligible provider and the town. This letter should be submitted to the Communication Union District serving your town or an eligible provider in non-CUD towns. The letter must detail the following:

  • Amount of match
  • Whether the town elected for revenue replacement or confirmation that the proposed use of funding provided by the town is allowed under Treasury Rules
  • The need for increased access to 100/100 Mbps broadband in the community or region
  • Any conditions attached to the funds

2) Memo from the CUD or other Eligible Provider Summarizing All Pledges Received Before May 31, 2023

  • Formally ask the VCBB to match the town’s contribution
  • Confirming that a universal service plan and Act 71-compliant business plan exists for the town or CUD.
  • High-Level Budget for the use of matching funds provided by the VCBB.

Questions or Concerns
Please contact Rob Fish, Deputy Director of the VCBB, at robert.fish@vermont.gov or 802-522-2617.

The VCBB understands and encourages CUDs and eligible providers to recognize broadband may be only one of several important priorities for a community and to use this program as an opportunity to listen and learn and support all goals of their communities.