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Howell officials may consider citizen input on Altice issues

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HOWELL – Municipal officials appear willing to consider the idea of having one or more citizens involved with a committee that, if empaneled, would examine ongoing issues with Optimum/Altice.

At present, there is no committee overseeing a potential franchise renewal with Optimum, Township Manager Brian Geoghegan said.

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In October, Township Council members asked the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU) to order a reduction in service charges for Howell residents who pay for services provided by Optimum because of what officials assert is the company’s failure to provide adequate and proper service.

During the council’s Nov. 10 meeting, Jerry Baron, who serves on the Howell Environmental Commission, raised the idea of having citizens sit on a committee that would oversee the township’s franchise agreement with Optimum.

Geoghegan said there have not been any updates regarding the Optimum issue since the October council meeting.

Councilman John Bonevich said he would be interested in having citizens become involved in the Optimum issue and said he believes many residents would be willing to do so.

Barron said he read the franchise agreement and he asked the township’s professionals to determine how much money Howell has received from Optimum in 2020.

He said Howell’s Information Technology department is supposed to receive $50,000 during the 10-year agreement and said, “I would be interested in what the IT department did with that.”

The resolution the council passed in October states that Howell officials “have been inundated with complaints from residents regarding inadequate service provided by its cable provider, Optimum/Altice, USA.”

“These complaints existed prior to the COVID-19 pandemic and have only been exacerbated as a result of the failure of this cable provider to provide adequate and proper service to this community,” officials said in the resolution.

Howell’s elected representatives said Verizon also has a franchise in Howell, but said that company’s services are not available everywhere in the community.

Regarding children who are receiving school lessons at home and the additional number of residents who are working from home due to the COVID-19 health crisis, municipal officials said, “the inadequate service provided by Altice has interrupted the education of our youth and the ability of our residents to earn a living.”

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