Update 2: We learned more about CAR25's future on Monday night. The Finance and Personnel Committee voted unanimously to use $30,000 set aside in the 2009 budget for a part-time employee that was never hired to help the cable-access channel move into a larger office in the City Hall Annex. (CAR25 is now in the Annex's basement.) The move will start on Jan. 4.
What remains unclear is how extra money in CAR25's 2010 budget will be used. One idea is to buy equipment to tie the station into the AT&T Uverse package, which would also allow the city to stream CAR25 online and broadcast live from the City Hall. Another idea is to use the money to hire a consultant to create programming for CAR25.
Update: Here's a few more specifics on CAR25's budget. The city budgeted $80,860 for CAR25 in 2009. That number jumped to $115,903 in 2010. The bulk of the increase came under "operating expenditures," which jumped from $4,125 in 2009 to $44,375 in 2010. "Inter-Departmental" costs increased from $8,618 in 2009 to $14,500 in the 2010 budget. To offset some of the increase, "Salaries & Fringe Benefits" were cut from $67,891 in 2009 to $57,028 in the 2010 budget.
Original: CAR25 is getting attention from city leaders.
At issue is how to spend an additional $35,000 in the cable access station's 2010 budget. The money came from allocating an additional 5 percent from the city's telecommunications franchise fee paid by cable TV subscribers.
We're told some would like to use the money to hire consultants to create new programming for the station. The mayor's budget proposal alluded to this by suggesting the additional money will be used to pay for informational videos regarding "water, parks, streets, fire, police, health and other matters of public concern."
Insiders tell us the new programming would be used to hire consultants to create the informational videos. But some are skeptical. They'd rather see the money used to buy new equipment, tie the station into AT&T's cable system (CAR25 is currently unavailable to AT&T subscribers) and create the ability for live CAR25 broadcasts (for example, to broadcast City Council meetings).
Some are also worried about past efforts to hire consultants for CAR25. Former Mayor Gary Becker spent $30,000 on consultants with little to show for the money, according to insiders.
So the debate appears to center around spending the money on consultants or equipment for CAR25. Look for a decision to be made on the money in the next few weeks. The city's Cable TV Commission meets Jan. 18 and we're told a decision will be made before that meeting.