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City Council now on your TV

"POULSBO - If you air it, will they watch? This is exactly what Poulsbo City Council will be finding out later this year as their meetings enter local homes via Bremerton Kitsap Access Television. The decision to televise the often lengthy sessions came after some discussion and a final 4-2 vote on the matter with council members Jackie Aitchison, Connie Lord, Mike Regis and Ed Stern for and councilmen Dale Rudolph and Jeff McGinty against. Councilman John Henry was absent. Explaining his position on the issue, McGinty pointed out that he had yet to hear anything positive from the public on the proposal. Nobody came to me and said this was a good idea. I don't feel comfortable that (the public) wants it, he said, adding that the $13,000 needed to fund the program for the remainder of the year would be better spent on the city's aging road system. Our streets need maintenance. I'm concerned that if we don't keep up they're going to end up like our stormwater and sewer. While no council member disputed the need for an improved infrastructure, the push toward accepting BKAT's plan was apparent. Several of the elected officials said they felt televising the meetings would allow much of Poulsbo's elderly population to experience city council first hand. Councilman Ed Stern suggested the city at least give the idea a whirl for 2001. If it doesn't work out, Poulsbo could simply go off the air next year. The cablecasts could start as early as April, according to a preliminary work sheet which was provided to city council earlier this month. BKAT executive director Scott Scowcroft said although the initial agreement was to televise three, two-hour meetings a month, The intent is to record the entire meeting and then cablecasting the entire meeting. Often city council sessions run well over two hours, starting at 7 p.m. and ending at 10 p.m. on a regular basis. Despite some unresolved issues, Regis proclaimed, We're on TV after the measure passed. Some members of the audience, however, disagreed with the decision to televise the council sessions, noting that the experiment could very well explode in the group's face. I think you just shot yourselves in your collective foot, long-time Poulsbo resident Muriel Williams told the council before challenging them to compare how many viewers they would have to how many requests they have to fill pot holes along city streets. Herb Kai agreed with Williams, noting that he felt the city had much more pertinent needs than its own TV show. Local land use lobbyist Dan Baskins said in his experience televised sessions delayed the process of government and often lead to posturing. Nonetheless, council passed the measure in its vote to utilize some $308,000 in unappropriated money from the 2000 budget cycle. Other 2000 general fund carry over items include: * $6,108 in the professional services for the planning department. * $25,000 for city streets maintenance and repair. * $15,000 for the city grants consultant. * $849 for continued membership in the National League of Cities. * $14,000 to assist the North Kitsap School District in keeping the community pool open (2001 only). * $15,000 to support the Kitsap Regional Economic Development Council. * The remaining $222,138 has been transferred to the city's revenue stabilization fund with $100,000 reserved for future legal costs. "

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