A majority of the City Council this week agreed to give Longmont Public Media more money to help expand its offerings over the next two years, saying the public access channel is an important fixture for creativity and discourse.
“We know what a growing gem LPM is,” Councilor Marcia Martin said during a work session to discuss the city’s $144 million budget.
Councilor Tim Waters said giving LPM a bigger chunk of the franchise fees the city gets from Comcast, allows the channel to do more for the community. “This is … a public good. This is not the same as a gas station or commercial television,” Waters said. “The principle here is how much we care about public access.”
The council voted 5-1 to give LPM 50% of the franchise fees under a new two-year contract. Last year, LPM received 25% of the franchise fees which was $140,000. In 2023, the fees are estimated to be $305,000. The contract extends for two years, 2023 and 2024, Sandi Seader assistant city manager said via email.
LPM receives the franchise fees as compensation for its contract with the city as the city’s public access provider. The rest of the fees the city puts into its general fund.
The city last year also contracted with LPM for $120,000 in one-time funding to help the channel defray the costs of the economic downturn caused by COVID.
Mayor Joan Peck cast the dissenting vote, saying she appreciates the work done by LPM. But she said the new money going to LPM may adversely affect other programs in the city.
“If we give them more in franchise fees we have to figure out what services to get rid of…” Peck said.
Waters said the city can easily make up for the drop in revenue in its general fund. “That is pocket change,” Waters said.
LPM officials and members put on a heavy lobbying effort Tuesday night for the boost in funding. Several spoke during the public invited to be heard segment of the council meeting and were featured in a video presentation during the budget discussion.
All said the station provides a creative space for budding artists and filmmakers while also offering an in-depth look at local government.
“This has become a catalyst for the community,” AJ Silva told the council. “There really is nothing else like it out there.”