Urge the Arlington County Board to act to restore Arlington Independent Media’s funding.
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The proposed Arlington County FY '19 budget would be catastrophic for AIM!
Arlington Independent Media, an organization that has served the Arlington community for over 35 years, is facing an existential threat in the form of a proposed 20% cut to the funds that we receive from Arlington County beginning July 1, 2018.
When the new Comcast cable franchise was written, the county failed to earmark 1% of gross cable revenue for AIM as it had in previous franchises. Instead, AIM was promised ongoing support from the state communications tax that would be reduced over time as revenue dropped due to cord cutting and other economic pressures on the communications industry. We were told in meetings with Arlington County officials at the highest levels that we should expect a 5% reduction in funds each year until the cable franchises expired in December 2021. Total Arlington County support of AIM in fiscal year 2018 (ending June 30th) will amount to $454,000. The County Manager's budget proposes to slash that figure by 20%, or roughly $90,000, putting AIM's support at $363,200 for the coming year.
The County Manager's 2019 budget forecasts a total of $6.8 million in communications tax revenue, down 4.2% from the current fiscal year - or roughly what AIM was told to expect. But rather than being asked to absorb the 5% reduction, as we had agreed to do, the county is asking AIM to accept an additional 15% in cuts. We think that this is unfair, overly burdensome, and contrary to everything that we have been promised. We understand that the County is facing some daunting budgetary pressures and we're willing to do our part, but a 20% reduction in support is not only excessive and beyond what other recipients of County funds are being asked to accept but it will significantly curtail what AIM and WERA can provide to the Arlington community.
AIM has already made significant cuts to our staff and hours of operation, we have had to raise fees, and discontinue projects that serve the community in order to fill the hole caused by previous cuts in our support from the county. The proposed additional cuts would inevitably result in additional staff reductions and further cuts to hours and services. Training, production, programming, and community services will all be affected if these drastic cuts are allowed to stand.
We the signers of this petition are concerned Arlington citizens who urge County leadership to act now to restore AIM's funding and preserve American's best community media center.
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