RUMFORD — Selectmen on Thursday night rejected giving $2,000 to local access channel WVAC-TV 7 to jump-start capital improvement funding.
Len Greaney, a WVAC-TV 7 director, requested the money following a short presentation.
Greaney prefaced his talk saying he last alerted selectmen to the need in May when selectmen asked him to check with other towns the station serves for funding before returning to Rumford officials.
Greaney said the station has been moved into a room at the Region 9 School of Applied Technology and directors are recruiting students from area high schools that attend Region 9 to operate station equipment.
Greaney said that previously, he's requested 66 percent of Rumford's cable TV franchise fees (more than $40,000) and received that for two years to help cover operational costs, an operation manager and materials.
He said that “a lot of other towns have not tipped their finances our way.” Mexico and Dixfield, he said, each donated 39 percent.
Greaney asked the board to consider funding the station with an additional $2,000 to help replace old equipment.
“It would be extremely helpful,” he said. Then he told the board that they're not yet in “crisis mode.”
Greaney said directors are working on a capital plan to spend $4,500 a year to upgrade equipment and would like to offer a $250 scholarship for students who help the station.
Selectman Jolene Lovejoy said the board couldn't commit more than 66 percent of cable TV franchise fees at this point.
“We need upgrades here and that's going to cost us,” she said.
Selectman Brad Adley asked Greaney if any of the other River Valley towns had pitched in for the station's capital funds. Greaney said he hasn't heard anything yet.
Adley said Rumford voters told selectmen to fund the station at 66 percent of the franchise fees.
“I have no problem with that, but that's where it ends,” Adley said.
Jeff Sterling, acting chairman of the board, told selectmen and Greaney that at the May meeting, he started to motion that the board fund the station an extra $4,000 for its capital fund, but then backed off because he didn't feel it would be supported.
“We're being asked for $2,000 instead of $4,000 now, and I have no problem with doing that,” Sterling said. “That's what cable franchise fees are for.”
Following questions from Selectman Jeremy Volkernick that Greaney answered, Sterling asked for a motion. When none came, he said he didn't know if it was proper for the chairman to make the motion.
Sterling is the vice chairman, but ran the meeting because Chairman Greg Buccina was absent due to helping run the town's Fourth of July celebration.
Neither the other selectmen nor Town Manager Carlo Puiia said they knew if it was proper, so Sterling then motioned to give $2,000 to the station. It died for lack of a second.