Quantcast

Aldermen postpone action on media center cuts

About a dozen speakers, and a video specially produced for the occasion, failed to convince aldermen Monday to not cut funding for the Evanston Community Media Center.

But the aldermen couldn’t agree on how big the cut should be, so they deferred a decision until their next budget workshop session, scheduled for 6 p.m. Wednesday at the Civic Center.

About a dozen speakers, and a video specially produced for the occasion, failed to convince aldermen Monday to not cut funding for the Evanston Community Media Center.

But the aldermen couldn’t agree on how big the cut should be, so they deferred a decision until their next budget workshop session, scheduled for 6 p.m. Wednesday at the Civic Center.

Alderman Don Wilson, 4th Ward, introduced a motion to adopt the city manager’s recommendation that the roughly $440,000 in total funding the center receives from the city be cut by $200,000.

But Alderman Lionel Jean-Baptiste, 2nd Ward, proposed a cut of just $100,000. And Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, suggested slicing the funding by $150,000.

Wilson said he didn’t want to see the center close down, and that he thinks the group has enough money to continue on its own. "ECMC is an independent organization and it, not the city, should take responsibility for developing a plan for its future," Wilson said.

Jean-Baptiste said the council is asking the center to make some major changes over the next year — including moving to new quarters to cut its current $95,000 a year rent.

Alderman Jane Grover, 7th Ward, said she supported Wilson’s motion. And, after hearing several ECMC supporters cite religious programming on the channel as the reason for their support, she asked the city attorney to research whether there were any restrictions on use of the channel for religious purposes.

She said ECMC has opportunities to develop meaningful funding partnerships and appears to have enough money to sustain itself through a transition to a new location.

The non-profit organization has come under fire in part because it depends on city funding for the vast majority of its total budget, while charging its roughly 100 members fees of as little as $30 a year for full access to the center’s equipment.

Editors’ Picks