Jefferson City's budget committee voted to restore $55,000 of city funding to JCTV Thursday evening, reversing a proposal to defund the station entirely.
Going into Thursday evening's meeting, the station had no city money set aside for it for next year per the mayor's proposed budget. Moments after the meeting was called to order, Fifth Ward councilman Larry Henry proposed sending $55,000 to JCTV. That money came from a sum the council had voted to throw back into the pot Monday night which had originally been set aside for the city's contingency fund. After the committee approved the idea, Third Ward councilman Ken Hussey proposed defunding a camera operator position that had been included to replace JCTV's presence at city meetings. The committee green-lighted this proposal as well, bringing the total set aside for the station to $55,000.
Mayor Eric Struemph, who was not present at Thursday's meeting, proposed defunding the station in the budget he submitted to the council for review. That would have put $110,000 back into city coffers for use on other services. Struemph has said repeatedly throughout the debate that he felt given the city's weak finances, it needed to spend the money on more critical services like police and fire protection. Several city council members expressed unease with the idea at Monday's budget committee meeting, leading them to call a special meeting for Thursday. The city's budget committee consists of the city council, though it does not conduct council business simultaneously.
JCTV Station Manager Gloria Enloe told KRCG 13 after the meeting she was happy that the council was willing to at least partially fund the station, though she added JCTV would have to renegotiate its contract and figure out a new funding model. Enloe said the station would most likely rely on a combination of city revenue, funds from Lincoln University and private donations. She noted that the station raised about $10,000 in donations last year, which was the first time it conducted any large-scale fundraising.
At the end of the meeting, Second Ward councilman J. Rick Mihalevich raised concerns about the city's contingency fund, which now only has a maximum of $27,000 set aside for it in next year's budget. Mihalevich told KRCG 13 he felt the city could afford the amount set aside for JCTV but would have to look at reducing expenses elsewhere, such as foregoing a permanent city finance director, in order to add money back into the contingency fund.
The city council will debate the budget one more time Tuesday night before deciding whether to grant it final approval. Mihalevich and Henry said the amount set aside for JCTV could change at that meeting but didn't expect anyone to propose doing so.