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UPDATE: Budget amendment would fund Columbia Access Television another year

Tuesday, September 3, 2013 | 9:49 p.m. CDT; updated 1:59 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, September 4, 2013

*This article has been updated to include additional information about the source of funding for Columbia Access Television as well as comments from members of the City Council.

COLUMBIA — A proposed amendment to the city budget would dip into last year's surplus to fund Columbia Access Television through 2014.

At the Tuesday meeting of the Columbia City Council, City Manager Mike Matthes read a list of amendments that included one designating $200,000 from the surplus to CAT. Matthes' original budget wouldn't renew the city's five-year contact with the station, while the new measure would continue funding for a year.

The proposed amendment hasn't been voted on yet. Mayor Bob McDavid said he expects to vote on all amendments at the next council meeting on Sept. 16.

"I expect it to pass," McDavid said. "But there will be debate on the issue."

The money will come from general fund savings that were previously designated for Columbia sidewalks.

Fourth Ward Councilman Ian Thomas said the future of sidewalk development would be hurt by this amendment.

"I just want to make sure everyone realizes this isn't money that came from nowhere," Thomas said. "This was going to build some sidewalks, which is much needed."

Of the $200,000 budgeted to CAT, half would be available right away, while the rest would be provided through a 2-to-1 matching program: For every dollar CAT raises, the council would give two dollars of funding until $100,000 was reached.

CAT had previously expected to raise $40,000 for 2014, but Executive Director Jennifer Erickson said on Tuesday that a $50,000 goal is attainable.

"It's a higher amount than a goal we had already set, but it's doable," Erickson said. "We are a strong organization that can rise to this challenge."

Erickson said input from all the people who use CAT helped build the case for the city to continue funding the station.

"We are a resource being utilized by so many different members of the community, from nonprofits to individuals to families," Erickson said. "We asked our community to respond, and they did."

Supervising editor is Richard Webner.


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