Minet plans to expand


MONMOUTH/INDEPENDENCE — Monmouth-Independence Networks (MINET) is stable, but not growing at a rate that will make it profitable and able to make its debt payments.

That was the news the MINET board of directors heard from Chief Financial Officer Mark Thoenes and General Manager Don Patten at the board’s Thursday meeting.

“MINET is between 60 and 65 percent of the size it must be to fund all annual debt service, capital expense requirements and continue to fully fund its operating costs,” Patten told the board. “Even if we penetrated 80 percent of this market, we’re still going to come up short.”

Patten said MINET needs to “think out of the box” and find new revenue streams, including possibly providing citywide WiFi, selling wholesale services or finding more tenant customers.

MINET has been trying everything it can to gain customers — particularly when it comes to data plans, MINET’s most profitable service — but now Patten said he needs clear direction from the board of directors to know what its goals for the company are and how long the timeline for those goals is.

“If we know the rules by which we must play, because it’s agreed upon by the board, we will set the plan and timeline and do our gosh darndest to achieve it,” Patten said. “We’ll make sure we’re reporting (back to the board), especially when we’re not (achieving the goals) to make sure we’re altering the plan and get back on track.”

Board Chairman and Independence City Manager David Clyne said he was not ready to respond to the request for direction, suggesting the revised business plan go first to the finance committee, which was not re-established at Thursday’s meeting.

Thoenes said getting directions from the board of directors was not something a finance committee was needed for.

“We are not, by any stretch of the imagination, suggesting we cannot grow the company at least flat line to our debt, but we need to know, … we need direction to say where do we put our focus,” he said. “Any company that’s an invested-in company gets that from their board, and we need it from ours.”

Board Vice-Chairman and Monmouth City Manager Scott McClure asked Patten to bring a goal to the board, and then board members could weigh in.

Patten said he would bring back two to four scenarios outlining MINET’s future for the board to consider at its May meeting.

In other business:

A new charter for the finance committee had not been completed by Thursday’s meeting, so the advisory group was not reinstated at Thursday’s meeting. How members of the group were chosen was discussed.

Clyne said each city can look to target who they want on the committee. McClure suggested advertising for members at-large, because the finance committee should be a generic committee.

“My vision is for each city to have a resident (on the committee),” Clyne noted.

McClure said if that was the case, membership should be equally dispersed between the two cities.

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