Columbia Access Television funding remains in contract with Columbia

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COLUMBIA - The Columbia City Council passed their $441 million budget Monday night, which did not include Mayor Bob McDavid's plan to fund more money toward public safety.

Mayor McDavid aimed to move $150,000 toward public safety as well as improving relationships between community members and police.

A chunk of this money, $50,000 to be exact, was planned to come from Columbia Access Television (CAT-TV).

Mayor McDavid was the only one out of the seven council members to be in favor of cutting funds from the station.

"We're not fixing our roads in a timely fashion, and so the decision to fund CAT-TV fifty thousand dollars, is fifty thousand dollars that we are not using toward community resources, it's that simple," Mayor McDavid said.

CAT-TV is going in to its second year in the Columbia budget for $50,000, so cutting these funds would have cut off all of their funding from the city.

But with the support of many community members and the other six council members, the funding will remain as planned for the upcoming year.

CAT-TV Executive Director Jennifer Erickson explained how vital the station can be for anyone to have a creative outlet and giving people means of "economic development," allowing individuals to learn and practice skills related to editing and video producing.

"You can walk in to our downtown media center and learn skills that can lead you to great jobs."

Shawna Johnson, Executive Director of Access Arts, was pleased at the result of the meeting and that the funds will be given

"I see this as a way to also continue to motions of all of these other non-profit organizations that profit from this by allowing us to get our messages out there," Johnson said.

But not everyone in the audience was siding against Mayor McDavid on the issue.

"There are a large number of different projects that the city has to consider. CAT-TV is one, it's a small one," Columbia resident Jason Black said. "Again the question I bring up is this a fundamental central purpose of the City of Columbia? Is this something that city absolutely needs to provide? I call that in to doubt."

One other individual approached the podium during the public hearing and mentioned:

"I would rather have a police car going through my neighborhood at night rather than watching some silly movie."

Fourth Ward City Councilman Karl Skala has some history with CAT-TV, as he hosted an interview show called "The Counterpoint" on the station for over a year, and believes it offers opportunities for many people in Columbia.

"Frankly we have a plan, we have weaned them off of public monies, although I think it's, in my view, it's a priority that we should still reserve some funds for them because it makes this a very special place."

Skala and the other council members hope to see CAT-TV be self-sufficient in funding by the time their contract ends.