Sprint has gotten free electricity for nine years for cell towers perched within a flagpole on city property because Gaithersburg failed to bill the company.
The two cell towers accrued $65,000 worth of electricity costs over nearly a decade since being installed on top of a structured parking lot in Olde Towne Gaithersburg.
Three cell phone towers of four in the city are located on top of the structured parking lot at 112 Olde Towne Ave. Phone service provider Sprint, which operates two of the towers on the parking garage, entered into a deal with the city of Gaithersburg to pay the towers’ electric bill.
The city had been paying the master bill for the garage, without billing Sprint separately, for nine years. Sprint has now paid the $65,781 bill, according to Olde Towne Coordinator Cindy Hines. Sprint declined to comment on specific details of its contract with the city.
Sprint made the deal with the city instead of PEPCO because the cell towers’ electric bill was part of a master bill that included the entire parking garage, City Comptroller Tina Smith said.
Smith first noticed the discrepancy earlier this year. City Manager Tony Tomasello notified the public at a mayor and city council meeting Feb. 4 that the city comptroller had made arrangements for repayment.
Hines said Sprint is now being billed monthly.
The two cell towers operated by Sprint are located within a flagpole on top of the parking garage. The third tower on the parking garage is operated by Cricket. Hines said there are no outstanding billing issues with Cricket. The city’s fourth cell tower is located at Kelley Park, operated by T-Mobile and billed by PEPCO.