The local T.V. Society in Fort St. James needs a bigger budget, and has requested council approve an increase in taxation towards the service.
The increase would go from $0.28 per $1,000 taxable value of a property to $0.36 per $1,000 taxable value of a property.
This increase would lessen per property owner as the number of properties in town rises, such as with the new subdivision.
The increase is actually a return to historic taxation rates, which were reduced during the recent economic downturn.
When the recession was hitting the community so hard, the T.V. Society took a voluntary cut in its budget to reduce costs for the taxpayer and its annual budget went from $105,000 to $75,000.
T.V. Society member Bob Hughes was presenting to council at the March 9 meeting, and said the cuts made were not sustainable.
“One of the problems we’re getting into is that our equipment is wearing out,” said Hughes. “It’s just plain gets old and gets very expensive to maintain.”
Every now and then the society needs to replace one of the 17 transmitters it has in the area to broadcast signals, and each one is about $25,000 to replace.
The benefit to replacing the worn-out transmitters over time, Hughes told council, is also that the new transmitters upgrade the service to digital and more than one digital channel can be broadcast through a transmitter, so they are more efficient.
The society’s five year plan includes replacing worn out transmitters with new ones at a rate of one per year for the five years.
For a home valued at $150,000, the monthly cost would go from the present $3.38 per month, to about $5 per month.
While Mayor Sandra Harwood was supportive of the adjustment, other councillors wanted more information from the society before they got on board.
“I would like to know how many people in this community utilize the T.V. Society’s Service,” said Councillor Playfair.
While Hughes couldn’t produce any hard numbers, as the volunteer organization hasn’t had the resources for an actual door to door survey of households, he estimates they are pushing the 1,000 mark for households making use of their services.
Playfair also wondered what will happen in the future with the society if new volunteers aren’t found to replace those wishing to step down or who move away.
“So far we’ve been pretty successful and the members we’ve had have been long term,” said Hughes.
“We have a core of volunteers that does a pretty good job.”
But he admitted they could do a better job of recruiting.
“We tend not to beat our own breasts and maybe we should more,” said Hughes.
Councillors Playfair and Nielson also wanted to see financial statements from the society before making a decision.
The T.V. Society in the Fort broadcasts 17 television channels in town, three of which are already digital channels.
They also broadcast six radio stations, plus a seventh through digital television.
There is one television channel for local content and an emergency radio station which can be used in emergency situations. The radio station would cut in to 95.9 FM and be used for the Provincial Emergency Program.
The T.V. Society has been in the Fort since 1970, providing television and radio services to the area.