At its June 15 meeting, the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners refused to give any additional funds to URTV as it faces closure in September after hearing from producers.
Here’s a compilation of Xpress reporter Jake Frankel’s live tweets from the June 15 meeting of the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners:
On hand to accept Buncombe County Green awards are reps from Astral Buoyancy Co. and Green Casket Co. The awards are given to local businesses for demonstrating sustainable practices.
UNCA Chancellor Anne Ponder is now speaking about a new sat. pharmacy ed program at the school. The BCC passes a motion to allocate $600,000 to the pharm. school program. Vote is 5-0. Gantt: The program is a wonderful way to reach out to the community. It’s a monumental step.
The commissioners’ chambers are packed. Are most attendees here to speak out about public-access station URTV later in the meeting? Probably so. URTV Exec. Dir. Pat Garlinghouse has said the station will shut down in Sept. if it can’t get more funding. She told Xpress that she expects many URTV producers to come to today’s meeting to urge the BCC for more funds.
BCC is now discussing construction contracts for the ‘life safety tower’ renovations at the county courthouse. Candler resident Jerry Rice: this construction project is being thrown into the fast lane after some back room deal. Gantt: this project is 30 years overdue. We need new court space. Resolution to fund construction of new court space passes 5-0.
BCC is now hearing a report from their consultant on URTV funding. He says Buncombe owes URTV $48, 000 in PEG funds. He says the payment will be made next week. The other 30 % went to Ed and Gov channels. After that, he says URTV will have gotten over $800 K distributed by county in PEG fees; 70 % of PEG fees. He says county should expect to see $40 K / year in PEG fees for the “foreseeable future” He recommends that the county re-certify the channel and draft a written agreement for any future funding.
Public access Consultant John Howell: The state basically threw PEG funding under the bus. Howell: Now that Charter no longer puts franchise fee towards PEG, did they lower the cost of services, or pocket the money ?
Now public comment on URTV. Producer Brother Chris: URTV is a gem. If all we get is the PEG, URTV won’t last. Producer Brother Chris: Garlinghouse is doing a great job. Rev. Robert Gates: the church’s “phone in prayer line” URTV show has been very effective, they get calls from viewers in hospitals. Producer Randy McCracken: URTV is a wonderful place to learn. Staff is tremendous. It’s like a lending library. Producer Terra Mancey: I don’t know about the politics, but I know that URTV is a positive outlet that creates hope for community.
Richard Bernier: I was removed from URTV board. Board needs more oversight. Maybe URTV could partner with another station for funding? Davyne Dial: It was known all along that this train wreck was coming but the Executive Director didn’t do anything about it. Alan Ditmore: URTV has been mismanaged, spent too much on modern equipment. Wants this URTV to die, a new URTV to rise.
Producer Daryl Griffin of “Just Keepin’ it Real”: We do this from the heart, if URTV were to shutdown, I would be left in a fog. Producer Daughtry: URTV is a family friendly. You need quality equipment to make quality shows. These are professional shows. staff is great. Producer Pat: URTV is a wonderful family of people. They do a great job. It allows us to communicate with the community. Producer Debra Williams: We can’t let URTV die. Global Report show is the only non-corporate news outlet around. Producer Connie Smith: We get so many calls on our show, it’s incredible. I’m about to cry. Please don’t take URTV away. It feels safe.
URTV Prodicer Don Yelton: Consultant didn’t get the $ #s right. Wants URTV to stay but wants transparency. URTV Producer James Latimore with Vets for Peace: You have to to watch URTV. Shows on URTV are as good as anything on PBS.
Producer Nelson Staley: CLT public access has much bigger budget, but less equipment, editing stations, original content than URTV. Former Producer of Mount Dungeon Matt Howard: URTV gave me the experience I needed to get a job as manager of Boiler Room. It’s great.
Jerry Rice: What happened to the URTV audit that was discussed at the last BCC meeting? Will you put it on the Web site? County Manager Wanda Greene: We haven’t compiled it yet. We can put it on the site when it’s done. Jerry Rice: URTV isn’t anything like what people were afraid it was going to be. It’s good and we need to keep it. #avlgov
Gantt to consultant Howell: What happens if URTV goes under? Howell: The channel would go back to Charter. Charter might operate it as a public station, but charge fees to producers to use the time. It would be up to Charter. That’s what happened in Haywood County.
Vice chair Bill Stanley: We can’t raise taxes to bail out URTV. Commissioner Holly Jones: We’ve all been moved by the heartfelt comments. No question it’s positive, but it’s not our responsibility to save URTV. Jones: That fantastic list of services is not sustainable. URTV can’t continue to be done at that level. Gantt: This board isn’t going to bail URTV out. URTV has an independent board and needs to come up with its own solutions. We can provide our consultant Howell to URTV to help figure out a better financial plan. I’d like to see a plan.
Most people leave the chamber as Greene reviews the FY 2010-2011 budget. Board passes the budget 5-0.
Cynthia Barlow is presenting a workforce housing project; it’s designed to provide housing to low and middle income families. Gantt: It’s a cruel reality that not everyone who works in Buncombe can afford to live here. It’s our dirty little secret. Board passes motion 5-0 to loan the workforce housing project $192 K at 0 % interest.