City council debates mayor's funding proposal

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COLUMBIA - The Columbia City Council is voting on Mayor Bob McDavid's proposal to provide funds for more community policing.

McDavid's proposal means cutting $100,000 from the strategic plan budget and $50,000 from Columbia Access Television (CAT-TV) for the 2016 city budget to fund police overtime.

Council member Michael Trapp said this cut is not necessary.

"I think it's more of a symbolic gesture for the mayor to demonstrate that he hears the people's priorities to want to see more for public safety," Trapp said.

Council member Ian Thomas said CAT-TV should continue to be publically funded because of the service it provides to the community. He wants funding to remain at $50,000, this year's current spending.

Trapp said CAT-TV should be able to support itself independently. He does not support the mayor's proposal to de-fund CAT-TV for 2016, but said the station needs to find other ways to fund itself after this fiscal year.

"I would like to see them doing their own development and their own fundraising and support themselves through their own efforts in the community. I think they're worthy of city funds but not to be funded out of the general fund," Trapp said.

Jennifer Erickson, the executive director for CAT-TV, said she doesn't mind finding other ways to receive money, but it takes time.

"The money that the city gives us allows us to keep our membership fees affordable. That allows the majority of our public to take part in this community dialogue, so I would say there's an argument for continued city funding," Erickson said.

Trapp said cutting the funding from CAT-TV would be breaking a two-year contract between the television station and the city.

Over the past two years, the city council has cut funding for CAT-TV. The council cut funding from $200,000 a year to $100,000 this past year. They then cut funding to $50,000 for the 2016 fiscal year. This proposal would completely cut funding in 2016.

CAT-TV is an independent community media center offering a public access television station. They operate as a non-profit organization.

Trapp said allocating funds from the strategic plan is less of an issue for the city council because there aren't stakeholders attached to those dollars directly.

The Columbia Police Department said they were not familiar with the proposal or where the funds would be used should it be approved.

The City Council will vote on the proposed budget changes at its Monday night meeting.

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