|Excerpts from the Minneapolis City Council Ways and Means Committee Budget Meeting,
April 26, 2004
Communication Department Business Plan
Review and Approve Business Plan
Minneapolis Communications Department Director Gail Plewacki: …Key Initiatives… We want to examine the benefits of merging government and public cable access facilities. Preliminarily we have found that we can save $350,000 a year and probably improve and enhance both government and public access….
Our biggest budget challenges… We are a small department. Our budget is just in excess of $2,000,000 a year, and about $632,000 of that goes directly to Minneapolis Television Network, so we are a small-budgeted, small department with fourteen people…
Budget solutions to these challenges… The other solution that I’m looking at is merging government and public access cable facilities. We currently, as I said, fund Minneapolis Television Network to the tune of 600 plus thousand dollars a year, and we have two separate facilities. We have two studios, we have duplicate sets of cameras, duplicate sets of editors. The fact of the matter is that with the same amount of money that we currently get from Time Warner to support public and government access, we could upgrade the quality of that service and have one set of better equipment, so that is something that we have just begun exploring. We have done some research. Bloomington just recently merged theirs and it has been working very well for them, and there are several cities around the country that are doing that….”
Council Member Barbara Johnson: “I would just ask, on page 15 of your department resource plan, under Video Services, you have $250,000 in personnel costs, $746,000 in non-personnel costs.
Plewacki: Madame Chair, about $636,000 of that goes to MTN every year.
Johnson: So that’s the pass-through.
Plewacki: I write those checks out twice a year and it hurts a lot.
Johnson: You know, I really think your idea of trying to look at efficiencies in our delivery of video services is an excellent one, and I hope you pursue it. You will probably find some push back at MTN but I think in the value that our franchise has, as Council Member Zerby pointed out, is dollars. And we ship a lot of dollars out to MTN and we should be getting more bang for our buck that we are sending them, so I do encourage you in that effort.…
Johnson: I move that we approve the business plan for the Communications Department. All in approval say aye. Opposed; that carries.