By Debra Parkhurst
Voicing concerns over the future of community access television given current budget constraints, BCAT Chairman Bob Dutton presented three scenarios for its Annual Plan for FY2017.The “Best Case” scenario requested $205,805 (increase of 14.1%) which increases salaries for current hours, provides some benefits ($15,000),and rate increases for contract labor. Scenario 2 was a “Pick One” approach, providing a $190,805 budget (+5.8%) which allows an increase in the salary budget, with no benefits, but keeps current hours, and includes rate increases for contract labor. Scenario 3, a “What If…” approach, stays within a 3% budget, while still allowing a 5% increase in salary with no benefits budget, butreduceshours. All scenarios provide selective rate increases for contract labor, but none of the scenarios provide funds for “unanticipated expenses.”
Having conducted a survey of similar communities, Bedford Television found that both the B-TV budget per subscriber is slightly below average and the number of employees is average for like-sized communities. However, most communities contribute something to benefits for their employees, while BCAT does not. According to B-TV, one former employee who was happy working in Bedford found that “he could not refuse” an offer from Lowell TV because of their total employment package.
The Selectmen voted to approve scenario 2 which allows Bedford Television a budget of $190,805 (+5.8%), with no benefits, for FY 2017.
In other business, the Selectmen authorized Bedford Television to submit an invoice for its FY 2016 budget overrun for an amount not to exceed $3,000. The Selectmen also approved B-TV’s capital spending (amount not to exceed $7,100) in order to purchase a 27-inchscreen iMac computer(model MK462LL/A); a Canon EOS 5D DSLR camera kit, and a Matrox Monarch HDX, H.264 video encoder.