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Public communications fund recipients concerned about distribution

Friday, July 17, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CDT
The Public Communications Resource Advisory Committee has proposed project funding for 11 applicants. Columbia Access Television (CAT TV) has since withdrawn its application, leaving $1,150 to be redistributed among remaining applicants.

COLUMBIA — Applicants for public communications funding expressed concern that funds are disbursed among too many projects during a public hearing on Thursday.

The Public Communications Resource Advisory Committee plans to make funding recommendations to City Council for projects that inform citizens of community issues.

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The committee originally received 12 applications this year from organizations seeking funding. The committee divided the funds among 11 applicants after the Parks and Recreation Department withdrew its application. Columbia Access Television also withdrew its application, and the committee has yet to disburse those funds among the remaining ten applicants.

The allocation of funds has been further complicated by a recent recommendation by City Manager Bill Watkins to reduce available funding from $75,000 to $50,000. Assistant City Manager Paula Hertwig Hopkins said that funding needed to be cut to help balance the budget for the 2010 fiscal year.

"The city is faced with some serious financial challenges this year," Hertwig Hopkins said. "The city manager's had to make a lot of hard decisions."

Jan Stock, who represented applicant Rainbow House at the hearing, said that she would like to see only a few projects awarded money. She said the system allows everyone to receive money, but that nobody receives enough to complete projects.

Rainbow House, an organization that focuses on preventing and intervening in child abuse and neglect, requested funds for a series of public service announcements related to its mission.

"We need to have projects that are going to work," Stock said. "Instead of everyone getting a little bit, they should give a few people what they need."

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Missouri requested funding for a project that aims to educate local residents about juvenile crime. Dave Dietrich, special projects coordinator, said the organization's project is viable despite the possibility that it could receive about $8,000 less than it requested. Dietrich said the project could only fully serve the community if it were fully funded.

"We can't shoot for the moon, but we definitely want to make this project a priority," Dietrich said at the meeting.

Hertwig Hopkins said the committee is looking at the possibility of changing the funding allocation process in time for next year's applications. Committee member Nathan Waddell said during the meeting that changes should be made to help the most worthy projects receive the funding they need to be successful.

"I think we'd all like to see a few quality projects happen," Waddell said.

The committee is to meet again on Thursday to finalize its recommendations to City Council.

For more information about the projects, go to the Public Communications Resource Advisory Committe Web site.


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