Council: Vice Mayor questions not televising special budget hearing

May 19, 2010
Santa Paula City Council

There was more on the table than the city’s $1.2 million deficit at the special City Council meeting, where one member brought up the need for future special budget sessions to be televised for community benefit.

The next special hearing on Wednesday, May 19 will be televised and translated, according to Deputy City Clerk Peggy Higgins. The session will be held at City Hall Council Chambers starting at 6 p.m.

After the standing room only crowd heard employee representatives and the council tackle the financial gap that must be closed as soon as possible, Vice Mayor Fred Robinson said he had another concern. “It is critically important for everyone” in the city to be aware of what potential council budget cuts would mean to the community, and Robinson noted that the May 13 session had not been televised.

Regular council meetings are televised live on Time Warner Cable Channel 10 and replayed according to schedule. “It’s amazing how many people watch these things,” said Robinson, “but they do.”

Later in the meeting when the council was deciding on what measures to take on the budget, Robinson asked if the motion included televising selected special meetings. “That,” said Mayor Jim Tovias, “is an administrative position.”

Later Robinson asked the cost of translation services used for televised council meetings. “Six-hundred-forty-dollars for four hours,” and City Manager Jaime Fontes said “there are some administration fees involved” that cause televised meetings to cost about $700 to $800 an hour.

General policy, he added, has not been to televise special meetings, although “I have been advised” that such meetings have been televised. “By nature,” said Fontes, “we have some that could be televised.”

Robinson said he was not interested in all special meetings, but budget sessions are “critical.”

Councilman Bob Gonzales noted the city has a contract with Time Warner Cable, and that the May 3 council meeting was not held and “They owe us one.” Fontes said he would ask Time Warner if the city was credited for the cancelled meeting. “No,” said Gonzales, “tell them.”

Councilman Dr. Gabino Aguirre asked that future meetings that would draw a large crowd be held elsewhere: “The community center could be set up accommodating more people” who would want to attend.

Tovias said televising special meetings would be considered, “as topics arise” of special public interest.


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