JCTV's General Manager told KRCG 13 News Monday Mayor Eric Struemph's proposal to defund the station would jeopardize the benefits the channel provides.
Gloria Enloe said she was surprised when she learned the mayor's proposed budget would eliminate funding for the cable-only community access channel, which is housed on the Lincoln University campus. Enloe said she had expected the city to cut JCTV's funding, as it had the previous year, but not defund it entirely. She said the city pays for the channel's operating costs, including salaries, while Lincoln University covers in-kind costs such as facilities and IT support.
Enloe also said JCTV is an essential service because it provides transparency for government proceedings and because it provides educational opportunities for high school and Lincoln University students.
At Monday night's city budget hearing, Struemph reiterated to the council and to KRCG that he did not like the idea of cutting JCTV's budget, but he felt it had to be done given current economic realities. He said he does not think it is government's place to provide a service like JCTV and noted the channel is only available to cable subscribers.
"You can't get it if you subscribe to Dish Network or DirecTV," he said.
Some city council members said they had gotten calls from constituents both for and against defunding the station. Fifth Ward councilman Larry Henry said if the city went through with its decision to defund JCTV it would need to consider other ways to support Lincoln University. Officials said the station would get 90 days' notice if a decision was made to cut off its funding.
Revenue took up much of Monday night's discussion. Interim Finance Director Bill Betts told the city's finance committee the city's revenue this year is down partly because the city's budget proposal will no longer include grant money until those grants are actually received. Revenue from the city's three primary sources, utility, property and sales taxes, is down about 0.5 percent over last year.
2014's budget does not include any money for pay raises for city employees, nor does it include any floating holidays. Mark Edwards, the president of Jefferson City's Fraternal Order of Police lodge, said the biggest personnel concern is making sure the city can replace workers who retire. Struemph said his budget includes enough money to do this.
Also included in the mayor's budget is $3,000 to operate the metal detector and x-ray machine currently sitting unmanned just inside the main entrance to the municipal building. Struemph said the equipment is necessary, citing the 2008 Kirkwood City Council shooting that left that city's mayor, public works director, two council members and two police officers dead.