By Lorrie Ham
The St. Boni City Council voted Sept. 18 to give notice to the Lake Minnetonka Cable Commission (LMCC) of its intent to withdraw from the Joint Powers Agreement as it currently exists, effective Jan. 1, 2014.
The council unanimously approved the move, despite not having a clear consensus on what the city should do instead. The action gives the city an opportunity to explore all the options that are available to both represent the current subscriber base and to provide citizens with access to city council and planning commission meeting coverage.
Mayor Rick Weible, who offered the motion, said the action can be rescinded by the end of the year. Notice to withdraw from the LMCC is required by Oct. 15, or the city would be committed to a new contract, said Weible.
“It would behoove us to send a signal that we want to see improvement” in the way the LMCC Joint Powers Agreement is handled, said Weible, citing a need for better franchise representation, renegotiated franchise and PEG fees and greater flexibility.
Several of the 17 LMCC member cities have already taken action to leave the LMCC and negotiate their own cable contracts. Currently, the LMCC has negotiated contracts for its members with Mediacom.
Councilmember Joe Arwood said he was in favor of leaving the LMCC altogether. Councilmember Terrill Anderson felt the LMCC provided some good services, but that some changes were needed. Councilmember Bob Smestad said he would not support any plan which involved residents paying for a service they did not need or want.
Weible said one reason to stay in the LMCC was the “significant reserve fund” in the amount of about $350,000, which would be distributed to member cities only if the LMCC dissolved.
Arwood didn’t think that was reason enough to stay in the Joint Powers Agreement. “I won’t vote to stay just because of the reserve fund,” he said.
In addition to negotiating cable contracts for its member cities, the LMCC also provides a variety of locally produced programming and streaming services. The LMCC broadcasts coverage of city government meetings as well.
“The LMCC is getting a lot of pressure to make some changes, but I don’t know for sure what those changes should be,” said Arwood. “I’d love to hear from the city’s residents on what they’d like to see.”
In another matter, the council set the date of Oct. 23 at 7 p.m. for the 2013 Street Improvement Special Assessment Hearing.