Blaine council approves North Metro TV budget

The Blaine City Council Sept. 20 unanimously approved North Metro TV’s 2014 budget.

Blaine as well as the suburbs of Centerville, Circle Pines, Ham Lake, Lexington, Lino Lakes and Spring Lake Park vote on this budget because North Metro TV is the public access station that serves these communities through the broadcasting of government meetings, sports and other community events.

The majority of its revenue comes from franchise fees charged to the Comcast cable company for the right to use the public right of way and a public, educational and government access fee that cable customers pay each month.

According to North Metro TV, 54.5 percent of its estimated $1,863,639 revenue for next year will come from franchise fees, 38.1 percent from the customer-paid user fee and the remainder from other various income sources.

The biggest change between the 2013 and 2014 budget is a $37,558 bump in operating expenses to a 2014 amount of $1,104,001 to account for a 2 percent increase in staff wages and benefits, according to Blaine City Administrator Clark Arneson, who is Blaine’s representative on North Metro TV’s operating committee.

Councilmember Dick Swanson serves on North Metro TV’s executive board and said it is also looking ahead to franchise renewal negotiations with Comcast.

“We figure attorney fees will be $200,000. That’s what it was the last time,” Swanson said.

According to a budget summary, this estimated cost would be spread over three years of informal negotiations and include a needs assessment, consulting and legal costs.

Budgeted capital costs are anticipated to decrease $6,588 to a 2014 amount of $439,638. North Metro TV continues to move to a tapeless HD environment.

Some other 2014 anticipated capital projects includes motion graphics and replay equipment for the truck, LED lights for the studio and parking lot resurfacing, for example.

Eric Hagen is at [email protected]