Dec. 11 , 2006

Despite public outcry, HL cable will likely be changing

By Jennifer Gallus
Staff Writer

A final decision has not been made, but the Howard Lake City Council is leaning towards changing the cable department head position from a full-time to a part-time position, as discussed at last week’s workshop.

The change was recommended by Council Member Tom Kutz, who is also the cable department liaison. Kutz explained that after speaking with both Neil Sideen, cable department head, and Kelly Hinnenkamp, city administrator, it seems the half-time position would be the best option.

“With all the cities I talked to, none have a full-time cable person,” Kutz said.

Proponents of cable fear that revenue will be greatly decreased as a result of only having a half-time department head, and that this will infact lead to the downfall of the department.

After some discussion, council directed staff to keep the budget similar to last year’s, but to redirect line items to allow for more money in the equipment fund and less in wages, specifically for a part-time department head.

Repairs and safety of the current van used for cable was also mentioned, but no decision or idea was presented on what should be done, rather Kutz said he’d like to wait until a new cable commission with new members was formed.

Mayor Terry Ostgulen commented, “You have to make it (van) safe. I wouldn’t ride in it. It looks unsafe.”

Near the end of the cable budget talks, Mayor Ostgulen asked for input from others in the room, to which local resident Gerry Smith replied, “Over 30 citizens showed their support for cable at the last meeting, with only one person being negative.” He continued, “I can’t believe the council hasn’t listened to the residents, you can’t run that department with a part-time person.”

Mayor Ostgulen said, “The budget’s the same, it hasn’t changed yet.”

To which Smith retorted, “You’re twisting words around,” then he hastily left the room.

“We’ve listened to this enough,” Mayor Ostgulen sternly said.

The fate of the cable department and its possible budget cuts have been the topic of conversation at council meetings for the past month.

All other departments submitted their budget requests, and are likely to have their budgets approved without major changes made to them.

The final budget will be approved at the next council meeting, scheduled for Tuesday, Dec. 19.

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