Mexico access channel donation to remain at 50 percent

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MEXICO — Selectmen unanimously decided to maintain the current level of funding for the Western Valley Access Channel Wednesday night.

That level, about 50 percent of the annual franchise fees the town receives from its cable television provider, will amount to $5,000 this year.

The question came up because of a request by newly appointed WVAC board member, Len Greaney, who asked by way of a letter, that every town that is serviced by Time Warner Cable provide 66 percent of its franchise fees to the local access channel.

“The only way to accommodate this proposal would be to amend our ordinance,” said Town Manager John Madigan. The ordinance specifies that no more than 50 percent of the franchise fees go to the local access channel.

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Selectman Peter Merrill said the franchise-fee increase is being requested because of a planned upgrade in the system that includes promoting the area.

“They have a nice plan going,” he said.

Right now, only Mexico, Dixfield and Rumford regularly contribute a portion of their franchise fees to WVAC, Madigan said, although Roxbury gave $200 in 2009. Neither Andover nor Peru have used a portion of their franchise fees for the local channel.

Resident Marjorie Richard, a volunteer with WVAC, which regularly tapes the selectmen’s meetings, said the access channel is connected with the schools, their sports programs and other functions, as well as with other events in the community, such as performances by the Rumford Association for the Advancement of the Performing Arts.

“A lot of people benefit from Channel 7,” she said.

Board Chairwoman Barbara Laramee said the current budget development year is a tough one for the town. Madigan said the remaining franchise fees go into the general fund so that fewer tax dollars must be raised.

In another revenue matter, Madigan said a recent state review of revenues showed that about $5 million in additional funding is now available for the towns.

He said Mexico stands to receive about $21,000 of that figure, bringing the state’s revenue sharing total for two years for Mexico to $390,000. That figure, he said, is still $151,000 less than the town was originally slated to receive.

The board also entered into a closed-door session with Madigan and Public Works Director David Errington at the end of the regular meeting.

eadams@sunjournal.com

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