The Public Service Commission is taking up rural telephone subsidies. The goal of the money is to insure rural Georgians can get affordable access.
State lawmakers passed a law in 2010 to provide more oversight to the subsidies.
The PSC now reviews a company's request that exceeds one million dollars.
Three rural phone companies went before the PSC last week asking for more money. They say it’s needed to make up the difference between what they charge and what it costs to provide service.
Critics question companies that take subsidies but also pay out generous dividends and executive compensation. PSC Chair Stan Wise says he worries the case will set precedence if the companies are given what they want.
"There’s no reason that all 17 companies can’t come in next year and say we’re not going to agree to cap our funds if Ringold and Chickamauga and Public Service have done theirs and they all come in to what they believe they’re entitled to," says Wise.
The current total request from the fund is $17 million. The PSC will vote on the matter this fall.
Corrections: CORRECTION to: "State lawmakers passed a law in 2010 capping the subsidy at one million dollars per company. That's because they thought the rural companies were keeping rates too low on the backs of bigger companies paying more into the subsidies." Now reads: "State lawmakers passed a law in 2010 to provide more oversight to the subsidies. The PSC now reviews company's requests that exceed one million dollars."