The city's 2014 budget is on hold Monday evening after several members expressed misgivings about the JCTV funding debate.
Jefferson City mayor Eric Struemph's proposed budget for next year defunds the television station entirely, a move that frees up $110,000 for other purposes. Struemph has said because the city's finances are tight, he cannot give JCTV's service the same weight as police and fire protection. Monday evening's meeting was scheduled to be the last budget meeting before the budget goes to the city council, but committee members voted unanimously to hold one more meeting on Thursday to discuss JCTV's funding situation further.
Several committee members said they were not comfortable sending the 2014 budget to a council vote without taking more time to discuss the JCTV situation, though none of them signaled whether they favored keeping at least some city money flowing to the station. Ward 3 councilman Ken Hussey told KRCG 13 the city has a duty to publicize its proceedings, including budget and council meetings.
"If that's through JCTV, that's wonderful, and if that's through another source, that's great," he said. "I just don't know if we've thoroughly had that conversation yet, and I want to make sure we do before we close out the budget."
Ward 5 councilman Larry Henry, who acts as the council's liason with JCTV, has said several times during the debate that he feels divided between his loyalty to the station and the city's financial situation. He explained to KRCG 13 that the council has to find something to take money away from for every item it wants to fund.
"Right now, I'm having an extremely hard time trying to figure out where to restore that $110,000 in funding for JCTV from another budget line item," he said.
Committee members did not take any action on Struemph's decision to defund JCTV, but they did vote to redirect $72,000 back into the budget balance for use on other items. Struemph had set that sum aside to go into the city's emergency fund. Henry said this means that money can be redirected to other purposes. When asked if that would include JCTV, Henry said some of that money "absolutely" could go to JCTV, though he added the council may decide to keep it in the emergency fund after all.