(a) As determined by the council, project sponsors may submit applications for funding assistance. (b) Broadband deployment projects, including projects involving the construction of a network, may be submitted for type 2 and/or type 3 unserved areas as those areas are categorized pursuant to section six of this article. Broadband demand promotion projects may be submitted on a statewide or regional basis.
(c) When a completed application is received for a project area, the council shall post notice with the Secretary of State of the first completed application received for that project area. The notice shall be published in the State Register for sixty days to allow for competing applications to be submitted to the council.
(d) Within thirty days of the close of the sixty-day notice period, the council shall review all applications timely received during the sixty-day period and either:
(1) Approve funding for one or more projects after determining that the funding would constitute an appropriate investment of public funds; or
(2) Deny the project funding request if the council determines that:
(A) The application does not contain all of the required information;
(B) Is incomplete;
(C) A proposed project is not eligible for funding assistance; or
(D) The proposed project is otherwise not an appropriate or prudent investment of state funds.
(e) Prior to approving or denying any funding request, the council may seek the advice of any expert consultant retained pursuant to section seven of this article, but the council is not bound by that advice. The council shall also consider the views, if offered, of affected members of the public, including private industry.
(f) To apply for or receive any funding assistance for a broadband deployment project or a broadband demand promotion project from the council pursuant to this section, the project sponsor seeking the funding assistance shall submit a completed application to the council on the form prepared for such purpose by the council pursuant to section nine of this article.
(g) In reviewing each application, the council may use the engineering, financial and technical expertise of outside consultants in addition to the respective staffs of the government agencies and private-sector entities represented on the council or other government agencies.
(h) Notwithstanding any provision of article fifteen-a, chapter thirty-one or any other provision of this code, broadband deployment project proposals and broadband demand promotion project proposals submitted to the council for its consideration pursuant to this article and the council's decisions with regard to such projects shall not be subject to review by the West Virginia Infrastructure and Jobs Development Council.