160A-340.6. Public-private partnerships for communications service.

(a) Prior to undertaking to construct a communications network for the provision of communications service, a city shall first solicit proposals from private business in accordance with the procedures of this section.

(b) The city shall issue requests for proposals that specify the nature and scope of the requested communications service, the area in which it is to be provided, any specifications and performance standards, and information as to the city's proposed participation in providing equipment, infrastructure, or other aspects of the service. The city may prescribe the form and content of proposals and may require that proposals contain sufficiently detailed information to allow for an objective evaluation of proposals using the factors stated in subsection (d) of this section. Each proposal shall at minimum contain all of the following:

(1) Information regarding the proposer's experience and qualifications to perform the requirements of the proposal.

(2) Information demonstrating the proposer's ability to secure financing needed to perform the requirements of the proposal.

(3) Information demonstrating the proposer's ability to provide staffing, implement work tasks, and carry out all other responsibilities necessary to perform the requirements of the proposal.

(4) Information clearly identifying and specifying all elements of cost of the proposal for the term of the proposed contract, including the cost of the purchase or lease of equipment and supplies, design, installation, operation, management, and maintenance of any system, and any proposed services.

(5) Any other information the city determines has a material bearing on its ability to evaluate the proposal.

(c) The city shall provide notice that it is requesting proposals in accordance with this subsection. The notice shall state the time and place where plans and specifications for the proposed service may be obtained and the time and place for opening proposals. Any notice given under this subsection shall reserve to the city the right to reject any or all proposals. Notice of request for proposals shall be given by all of the following methods:

(1) By mailing a notice of request for proposals to each firm that has obtained a license or permit to use the public rights-of-way in the city to provide a communications service within the city by depositing such notices in the U.S. mail at least 30 days prior to the date specified for the opening of proposals. In identifying firms, the city may rely upon lists provided by the Office of the Secretary of State and the North Carolina Utilities Commission.

(2) By posting a notice of request for proposals on the city's Web site at least 30 days before the time specified for the opening of proposals.

(3) By publishing a notice of request for proposals in a newspaper of general circulation in the county in which the city is predominantly located at least 30 days before the time specified for the opening of proposals.

(d) In evaluating proposals, the city may consider any relevant factors, including system design, system reliability, operational experience, operational costs, compatibility with existing systems and equipment, and emerging technology. The city may negotiate aspects of any proposal with any responsible proposer with regard to these factors to determine which proposal is the most responsive. A determination of most responsive proposer by the city shall be final.

(e) The city may negotiate a contract with the most responsive proposer for the performance of communications service specified in the request for proposals. All contracts entered into pursuant to this section shall be approved and awarded by the governing body of the city.

(f) If the city is unable to successfully negotiate the terms of a contract with the most responsive proposer within 60 days of the opening of the proposals, the city may proceed to negotiate with the firm determined to be the next most responsive proposer if such a proposer exists. If the city is unable to successfully negotiate the terms of a contract with the next most responsive proposer within 60 days, it may proceed under this Article to provide communications service.

(g) All proposals shall be sealed and shall be opened in public. Provided, that trade secrets shall remain confidential as provided under G.S. 132-1.2. (2011-84, s. 1(a).)