GILFORD — Selectmen voted unanimously last night to contribute the $21,393 requested by Lakes Region Public Access television for fiscal year 2015 operations.
In November of 2014, the board voted unanimously to withhold the requested contribution because they had not yet gotten a detailed budget from the former station manager and the assurances they needed to know the operation had been streamlined.
After the meeting, Selectboard Chair John O'Brien said that LRPA had made enough financial progress that the board was more comfortable supporting it.
"We still have a few concerns," O'Brien said.
During the 2014 cable franchise negotiations with local communities, MetroCast Cablevision eliminated a $30,000 grant that it had been making to LRPA for the past 10 years.
Traditionally, LRPA also derived income from annual contributions from Laconia and area townships that are part of a consortium that negotiated the original cable franchise agreement with MetroCast. Those contributions were intended to come from the franchise fees MetroCast pays communities, based on the number of subscribers.
Over, the years, though, Franklin, Deerfield, Gilmanton, New Durham, Tilton and Northfield all stopped paying anything to support LRPA.
In 2014, LRPA shifted to a system whereby communities would pay less and businesses and companies would be solicited for a total of $129,000 in donations — much like the public radio and television models.
However, when LRPA's fiscal year began in June of 2014, no bills were sent to communities at any rate, much less the lower rates. In October, when no funds were left in the coffers and none of the communities had accepted new contracts, the LRPA board held an emergency meeting and asked member communities for their normal fiscal year 2015 contributions.
In late 2014 Laconia gave them $20,000, Belmont gave them $7,500 which is approximately half of their bill for half of their fiscal year, and Meredith gave them $17,991.
Alton and Northwood made their contributions earlier in the year.
In January of 2015, the board fired long-time station Manager Denise Beauchaine. Consultant Shane Selling took over as station manager on a part-time basis.
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