Proposed FY '19 County Budget Catastrophic for AIM
The proposed Arlington County FY '19 budget would be catastrophic for AIM!
We try to avoid hyperbole when we can. It doesn't help to cry wolf or shout about the sky falling anytime something doesn't go your way. But all Arlington Independent Media supporters need to know that we are 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, services to the community will all be affected if these drastic cuts are allowed to stand.
How you can help
We are asking our members and supporters to help us right this terrible wrong by directly contacting county board members and demanding that AIM funding be restored. The county board will vote on the proposed budget on April 21st. There are several opportunities for you to weigh-in with your opinions before the vote:
Sign our Petition - Urging the County Board to restore AIM's funding. (Arlington Residents Only)
Share Your Feedback on Arlington's FY 2019 Proposed Budget - This county survey asks Arlington residents to give feedback on the proposed budget. Must be completed by April 9, 2018
Write County Board members - firstname.lastname@example.org - Tell them you want AIM's funding restored. You can find a list of talking points here and a sample letter here. A shorter version of the talking points can be found here.
Write other local elected officials. You can find contact information here. Thell them AIM is an asset to the region and why you believe AIM's funding should be restored.
Speak with a County Board member at an Open Door Monday. Open to all Arlington residents. No appointment is necessary to talk one-on-one with a County Board member on any topic. Open Door Mondays are held from 7 - 9PM, at locations around the County. See schedule below:
Open Door Monday at Arlington Mill Community Center- Monday, March 12th
Open Door Monday at Central Library - Monday, March 19th
Open Door Monday at Aurora Hills Library - Monday March 26th
Open Door Monday at Langston Brown Community Center - Monday, April 2nd
Attend the regular Arlington County Board meeting on March 17, 2018 at 8:30AM - Attend this meeting and sign up to make public comment – Information about speaking during public comment period can be found here.
Attend the Public Budget Hearing on April 3, 2017, at 7:00PM - Come stand with us! Please come support AIM and WERA at this important public hearing. Wear your AIM and WERA shirts and pins and let's fill the county board room with our supporters. Sign up to make comment at this hearing. Everything you need to know about sigining up and speaking at County Budget Hearings can be found here.
This is NOT a drill! We need your support now more than ever. Together we'll help keep AIM and WERA strong for the next 35 years. Please, Raise Your Voice!