Verizon Makes City Pay Half of Pole-Removal Cost

The small city of North Andover, Mass., has to pay Verizon Communications Inc. (VZ) $450,000 to get rid of the phone company’s ugly, unsafe utility poles.

The entire removal will cost $900,000, but Verizon has refused to pay the entire amount up front. So, North Andover’s city leaders are expected to approve fronting half the cost, paying for it with Community Preservation Act money. According to the Eagle Tribune in North Andover, Verizon then will repay the expense over several years.

The thing is, subscribers, not Verizon, will really foot the bill. Verizon plans to add a 2 percent surcharge to landline accounts to cover the additional $450,000, the Eagle Tribune reported. Repayment could take between five and 10 years, city leaders estimated.

North Andover numbers about 28,000 people. And with more wireline users cutting the cord, there’s no telling how many residents will end up paying the surcharge.

Utility-pole removal is expected to start July 1. Supporters say that if the city doesn’t help pay for the project now, there’s no telling when Verizon might take it upon itself to dismantle the oddly positioned poles. Residents say the poles, which jut out of sidewalks and into streets along the town commons, are both unsightly and dangerous.

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