The Manassas Park City Council may award the cable television franchise for its 2,000-home community next week, ending what City Manager Jerry Davis has called a two-year "footrace" with the city of Manassas to acquire control of the cable game in Prince William County.
The county Board of Supervisors voted last year not to regulate cable television, touching off a scramble between Manassas and Manassas Park to award the first franchise.
Manassas Park leaders hope that gaining authority for implementing cable will bolster revenues for the tiny city.
"We want a system that will serve Manassas Park and be self-supporting," Davis said. "If that system does extend out into the county to service other areas, there will be a charge that comes back to Manassas Park. Since we've done all the legwork bringing cable TV to this part of the county, we should derive the benefits."
The Manassas Park council hopes to tax county and Manassas residents for hooking into the cable system. Such an arrangement would be legal, according to the Virginia attorney general.
Bids have been received from three companies and are being evaluated this week by a cable consultant and the City Council. The three companies are Cablevision of Manassas Park Inc., the offspring of a company that has built cable systems in Florida and Alabama; a company that is a joint venture between CATV General Corp. and Perry Cable Com, a Connecticut firm; and Virginia Cable Communication, owned by a group of Prince William County residents.
Virginia Cable would contract with Enfield Communications, which holds the Alexandria franchise, to build the Manassas Park system.
Manassas, which fell behind in the cable race last spring because of confusion over what authority it had to award a franchise, is in the process of drawing up a cable ordinance.
Herndon and Vienna also are working on cable ordinances, and Vienna hopes to solicit bids next month. Falls Church soon will advertise for bids and expects to award a franchise next spring. Fairfax City expects to receive three bids on its recently advertised proposal, with an award due by April.