Overhead costs for California’s broadband subsidy program steady at almost $4 million

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Administrative costs will take the same amount of money out of the California Advanced Services Fund next year as this year, assuming the California Public Utilities Commission approves the proposed budget that is scheduled to be on the table at its next meeting on 6 November 2014.

The $3.8 million overhead proposed is in line with the ballpark estimates I made back in August. There will still be something like $160 million left to spend on actual construction of broadband infrastructure, although that money will only go something like half as far as it might, given that the governor and the legislature decided that union pay scales and work rules apply to all CASF-subsidised projects.

CPUC staff costs associated with running the CASF program account for something like half of the overhead charge. That includes people who are assigned full time to the CASF program as well as support from other departments and a contractor who reviews loan applications.

The other half, or so, goes to pay for the CPUC’s broadband availability mapping program. Originally, the federal stimulus program picked up the tab, but as of this month the money for that is gone. So the CPUC is dipping into the CASF operating accounts to fill the gap and keep California’s independent broadband measurement and mapping program going. That means the infrastructure grant kitty will be tapped. So will the money set aside for infrastructure loans, regional consortia and broadband facilities and marketing in public housing. But infrastructure grants are the big ticket item, so that’s where most of the overhead – call it $3 million – will fall.