Utah legislators are right to be alarmed by the latest audit of UTOPIA, the troubled high-speed broadband network that is slowly bleeding its 11 Utah cities to pay its debts. Some suggested that the cities should sell this bad investment rather than let it continue to dig a deeper financial hole.
The lawmakers may be right, but this is an issue for the cities to decide. The Legislature should not impose new laws that would limit the cities' ability to maneuver in their attempts to deal with their own mess.
Sen. John Valentine, R-Orem, is working on legislation that would prevent county or city governments from borrowing to pay for more than 90 days of UTOPIA's operating expenses or to cover interest payments on its debts. Sen. Valentine is right to be concerned, but this is a decision that should be driven by the market. If, for example, the cities were to come up with a liquidation plan that required them to keep the network on life support for more than 90 days while they close a deal with a buyer or buyers, they should have that flexibility.