Phone ballots set for August 21

The time for balloting in Maple Lake on the question of entering the metro calling area is almost here.

Roger Moy, rates analyst for the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission, said that ballots will be sent out on August 21 with a return deadline of October 2.

In January, the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (MPUC) approved proposed telephone rates that would be implemented if Maple Lake gains Extended Area Access (EAS) and becomes a part of the metro calling area.

Entrance into the metro calling area would mean no toll (long distance) charges for calls within that area. However, the costs of providing that extended service to Maple Lake would result in higher monthly phone bills. The additive charge in Maple Lake would be $15.63 for residents and businesses, in addition to the Lakedale Telephone base rate of $10.50 per month.

Residents could also select a lower-cost option, which would include a base rate of about $10 per month and a charge of eight cents per minute to call the metro area.  After the balloting, there would be a period of three to six months to implement EAS if it is approved. If it is voted down, the six-year EAS process for Maple Lake ends too.

Moy said Maple Lake’s Lakedale Telephone customers would receive a ballot for each phone line at a home or business. “If a business has four phone lines, they would receive a ballot for each of those lines,” Moy said.

The ballots will be mailed out in packets that will contain a letter to customers explaining EAS and outlining the proposed rates. Also included in the packets will be a brochure explaining EAS and a phone number to call with questions.  Balloting will be conducted in 17 communities, with only Maple Lake, Howard Lake, Lonsdale, Henderson and Princeton seeking entrance into the metro calling area.

Moy said that as the ballots are sent out on August 21, phone customers could expect to receive them within three to four days. However, any Maple Lake phone customers not receiving a ballot can call Moy at 651-282-6443.

Lakedale Telephone has also scheduled an informational meeting on the balloting and EAS implementation at 7 p.m. on August 13 in the elementary cafeteria.