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Paynesville Press - May 14, 2003

St. Martin and Albany to vote on
expanded local calling area

By Michael Jacobson

Telephone customers in Albany and St. Martin will decide in the next five weeks if they will have local calls between the 548 and 845 exchanges at the cost of a monthly rate increase.

The Minnesota Public Utilities mailed ballots to telephone customers in St. Martin (548 exchange) and Albany (845 exchange) last week.

A majority of voters in both exchanges would need to approve having an extended service area between St. Martin and Albany.

If approved, an extended service area would allow local, instead of long-distance, calling between Albany and St. Martin. The majority of the St. Martin telephone exchange is part of the Albany School District, making the communities eligible to have a school district extended service area.

If a majority of voters approve the measure, all customers in both exchanges will pay a higher monthly rate for local service. Customers who are not eligible to vote, who vote against the change, or who fail to return their ballots will still be charged if the measure is passed. If a majority of voters in either exchange votes against the proposal the local calling area and monthly rates will stay the same.

The monthly rate increase if the extended service area is approved is $2.20 per month for residents and businesses in St. Martin. The rate increase is also $2.20 per month for residents in Albany and $3.33 per month for businesses in Albany.

Customers received a ballot for each residential and business telephone line for which they are billed. Customers will have until Wednesday, June 16, to return the postage-paid ballots to the Public Utilities Commission.

The results of the voting are expected to be known by the end of June 2003.

Customers with questions may contact the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission at 1-800-657-3782. Or they can write to: St. Martin School District EAS, Minnesota Public Utilities Commission, 121 7th Place East, Suite #350, St. Paul, MN 55101-2147.

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