City of Cleveland looks to force Windstream to comply with its request for audit

The City of Cleveland has taken steps to force Windstream to comply with the city’s request for a business audit.

During its meeting this week, the Cleveland City Council adopted a resolution stating Windstream is in violation of Georgia Code concerning the franchising of cable and video services because of failure to comply with an audit request of business records.

City Administrator Tom O’Bryant said during the meeting that in 2014 the city approved franchise fees for cable and video services.

As part of that resolution, licensed providers such as Windstream are required to submit franchise fees, but also can be called on to provide an audit to make sure the correct fees are being remitted.

O’Bryant said so far Windstream has been hesitant to respond.

City Manager Tom O’Bryant stated that if Windstream did not comply they will be in violation of state law.

Mayor Shan Ash, in reading the resolution, stated that Windstream has been remitting quarterly fees and, on Nov. 27, 2017, a request was made for a review.

Since then, Ash said numerous reminders have been sent.

The city received an email from Windsream on March 16, 2018, to Local Government Services indicating that compliance with the audit is not a priority, that it was not a compliance issue, and that data may be provided ‘as a courtesy’ only.

No estimated delivery date for data was stated. Further, Windstream urged no more emails regarding the City of Cleveland be sent.

The city maintains that Windstream is in violation of state law 36-76-6 for failure to respond properly to the audit request, the resolution states.

O’Bryant said it is his understanding that Windstream officials have heard about the city taking action and have begun to comply, but as of last Monday the city was still waiting.

In approving the resolution Ash said the city reserves the right to seek monetary damages and penalties, and the right to terminate Windstream’s access to right-of-way and any franchise for noncompliance.