Another Unpleasant Muni Surprise

Hewlett Packard told the St. Cloud, Fla, City Council last week that it needs another $460,420 to fill in coverage gaps for its free citywide municipal wireless system, the Orlando Sentinel is reporting. The system, which has been plagued with coverage problems, crowded channels and user complaints since its March start-up, has already cost $2.6 million. The Sentinel reported that the city council was “surprised” to hear about the need for additional spending. Most of the cost, $236,920, will go to bring service to 14 neighborhoods that “slipped through a hole in the project.” It turns out that typically bad city planning was at fault. Although St. Cloud’s contract was signed last June, developers, who are ostensibly funding the project, didn’t have to begin paying until December. Right now, the city hopes that local developers will step up and cover the cost. The alternative is to dip into municipal coffers, which is how they deal with muni wireless overruns everywhere else. More about St. Cloud problems here.