Nobody likes paying more for the same thing and the hikes in city of Dunkirk tax and water rates coming in 2013 has Common Council members looking everywhere they can to save money in Mayor Anthony J. Dolce's spending and revenue plan for next year.
Dunkirk Cable Board chairman Danny McGill was in the hot seat recently as four Common Council members met with McGill and Cable Access Program Coordinator Christa Haynes to discuss the cable board budget for 2013. Councilwoman-at-Large Stephanie Kiyak welcomed the duo to the morning meeting, which also included council members Michael Michalski, Adelino Gonzalez and Stacy Szukala.
McGill said he appreciated council allowing them to come and "make their case."
OBSERVER Photoe by Gib Snyder
Access 12 Program Coordinator Christa Haynes and Cable Access Board Chairman Danny McGill recently met with some Common Council members on the station’s proposed 2013 budget.
"We were a little disenchanted on hearing rumors of what's going to happen, what council thinks we should do, whatever," McGill said. "And discussing it a little more, it's advantageous for us to understand."
McGill noted Councilman William J. Rivera, council's ex-officio representative to the board, was not present. McGill said Rivera knows of cable board and Access Channel 12 issues.
"I read his article in the paper. He has a right to speak because he is our council ex-officio, but he's got to understand what's going on," McGill stated. "First of all, he doesn't have cable. It's a little difficult to go through that one step or whatever to explain these things."
Council heard explanations on needed updates to equipment that would upgrade the system and that Dolce, who sets the board's budget, agreed to update the automation system - allowing for programming schedules to be done via off-site computers. Council looked at each line in the budget, which McGill explained, but that wasn't council's main concern, it was the lack of programming the station provides.
A lengthy discussion followed with Haynes and McGill defending their efforts.
"What have we done this year besides the sports, besides the churches, and besides the common council meetings? What else have we been broadcasting?" Kiyak asked.
Haynes cited the effort to bring in what Fredonia is offering on Channel 19.
"I stopped doing programming because all of our programming is old," Haynes added. "So once we build up our local programming then I will start to do a schedule and make it public."
McGill said the board needs some expertise and emphasized they are volunteers.
"We save the city salaries, insurance, any kind of compensation ... You need to think about what it is we're doing," he said.
Szukala was having none of it.
"We get paid for council and I can outline 14 meetings for November that I'm not getting paid for, only two of them," she replied. "We all understand that volunteering is important."
Kiyak questioned whether the community is getting its moneys worth with the cable board's efforts.
McGill cited the change in sites for the Access 12 studios and noted the city had not found a permanent home for the studios.
Kiyak said council was questioning if a permanent home would "solve the fact there is barely any programming going on."
Haynes said they need more volunteers.
"We've had people come to us and say I would like to be on the board but they're not welcoming me. ... I'm just saying it's not a very welcoming feeling for some individuals and it's really unfortunate," Szukala replied. " ... You should be taking whoever you can and teaching them the ropes."
Szukala added some cable board members are asking what they're doing at meetings.
"They tell us the way it is and they don't want input and those are the things that come back to all of us and it's very disheartening," Szukala added.
McGill said he hadn't heard anything about that issue.
"We want to be on the board but we're not welcome. I don't buy that statement. ... We welcome everybody," McGill stated.
Kiyak asked why he thought there were few volunteers.
"Work, they left the area, they've left the state; they've graduated from college," McGill replied. "Why would you want to stay with us if you get a job that paid? It's a different generation, a different breed I guess, but we're trying to solve that. I think we're on the right step."
Discussion continued on the station's programming, or lack of it. McGill said there is programming and the station is worth the money.
"I'm just pointing out it hasn't been that great and I'm just pointing out, I don't know if the community would feel that for 25 grand if it's worth keeping that station because it has a crawl on it, for the most part," Kiyak replied. "I don't know. I'm in a situation where I have to think about 12,000 people's decision. It's not just me sitting here ... we all have responsibility to be their voice."
She added the community knows everything is going up and wondered if the money spent on the cable board budget was worth it.
"We wanted to give you an opportunity to come and tell us about what's been going on, what you plan on doing. I can tell you that we ask this very seriously," Kiyak said. "We will be considering the fate of the channel; whether we will leave it as it is or we could decide to eliminate it."
After further discussion McGill said the access channel is "a big deal over the years." He added if it is shut down in all likelihood it won't be back.
Council did end up proposing a cut of $4,280 from four different lines and added $500 to the rent/lease line. The station has apparently been given another lease on life.
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