While Nevada County’s public access television station was able to garner, on a preliminary basis, a $3,000 allocation for the year from the Nevada City Council at its Wednesday night meeting, without an explicit contract requiring the city to make that payment annually, the broadcasters were not as successful in convincing the council to make two retroactive contributions.
“The loss of (Nevada County Television) would harmful to the community,” noted Nevada City Manager David Brennan. “(But) We only expect to have a $7,000 fund balance in our general fund. To take $6,000 out of that doesn’t leave us with much at the end of the year.”
With the city needing to revisit its expenditures of new tax revenues in the coming months because of an unforeseen repair to the municipal pool at Pioneer Park, the council also directed city staff to look into how such an expenditure to NCTV could be accomplished and what impact it would have on other priorities.
“I’m very uncomfortable with the idea of going backwards,” said Mayor Sally Harris. “We’re just digging out here.”
At issue was whether the city originally intended to make a $3,000 contribution annually in addition to its regular payments to NCTV to provide coverage of city meetings and other events.
The 2007 council voted to allocate funds in March of that year, as well as in subsequent years until 2011, according to City Manager David Brennan’s report to the council. However, NCTV’s memorandum of understanding does not obligate the city to make such annual payments, and none were made the last two years.
“If that operation funding were not essential, I wouldn’t be here requesting it,” said NCTV Executive Director Lewis Sitzer, who also conceded that no payments were requested those years as that organization itself was in a state of transition.
“It could have been an oversight or an error or something, but as the city attorney is noting, it could be construed as a gift of public funds,” Brennan said.
If the city were to make a retroactive payment, City Attorney Hal DeGraw said it would need to be studied and justified as a payment toward a public benefit.
“This is a critical part of our community to me, and I am fully supportive of this moving forward,” said Councilman Duane Strawser about this year’s $3,000 contribution. “Whether we can go retroactive is going to be up to staff to determine if we can afford this, quite simply.”
To contact Staff Writer Christopher Rosacker, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4236.