Thursday, August 25, 2016

Davidson announces Mi-Connection CEO leaving

On Wednesday, the Town of Davidson announced Mi-Connection CEO, David Auger, will be stepping down sometime before June 2017.

The town public information office called it a "retirement", but "moving on" may be a better description since he will be focusing on another business he owns - National Food Equipment Services with offices in Mooresville, Winston-Salem, and Raleigh.

Auger was brought in by former Mi-Connection Chairman John Venzon to help right what was then a fast sinking ship that was about to take the Town of Davidson with it.

In FY 2011 which ended 6-months before Auger's arrival, Davidson's subsidy to the cable company was over $2 million per year and approaching a quarter of its general fund budget.

Venzon and Auger formed something of a dynamic duo to help pull the town back from the abyss the town had been brought to by its elected officials who decided getting into the cable business was angood idea.

Political, financial, and operational moves all helped achieve this.

Six months after Auger arrived, Venzon helped orchestrate a restructuring of the agreement between Mooresville and Davidson that capped Davidson's annual payment at $1 million. That single-handedly cut the subsidy in half from its 2011 peak. It also bought Auger the time needed to implement operational reforms at the company to make it run better.

In 2015 Mooresville was also able to refinance a portion of the MI-Connection, debt saving the towns hundreds of thousands of dollars in interest payments that contributed to the reducing subsidies.

There is no doubt filling Auger's shoes will be a big task.

What may be the most interesting question is why get out now?

For years, citizens have been told that 2017 was the year the towns could first really start talking about selling Mi-Connection due to the structure of most of the debt.  That's just next year.

After such hard work, it might seem curious why Auger wouldn't stick it out until the company is sold and off the backs of taxpayers.  The answer likely lies in the fact that even with all the improvement over the past few years, the company is still deep in debt and requires millions in subsidies.

Auger's planned departure may be a sign that 2017 will come and go with Mi-Connection still on town books for the foreseeable future.

Whatever the reason though, the citizens of Davidson and Mooresville owe a big thank you to Auger for his efforts.

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