By Mike Scott
Kahoka cable customers are about to see a big increase in their monthly cable bill.
“Programming costs have skyrocketed,” said Alderman Jeff Wood at the Monday, November 10 meeting of the Kahoka Board of Aldermen.
“And a large portion of it is the local channels,” Wood added.
Local channels, including WGEM-10, KHQA-7 and KTVO-3, as well as Fox and CW channels, have increased their re-broadcast fees by as much as 700%. The city is required to pay a per-subscriber fee, even though the stations can be received free by using an antenna.
“There was absolutely no negotiating with 3 and 7,” said Alderman Greg McVeigh. “It was take it or leave it.”
Some cable channels have required the city to add additional channels to continue service. For example, ESPN required the city to add the SEC Channel for Mizzou sports, which required the city to purchase an additional $6500 in equipment.
Effective December 1, rates for current basic service will jump more than 25%–from $35 per month to $45 per month. The board also voted to discontinue the senior citizen discount of $1.50 per month.
The last rate hike took place in October of 2013, and at that time rates increased by $1 per month.
More increases may be necessary in February as more channels’ contracts renew.
To give subscribers a break, the city will offer a new “Basic Service” plan beginning in January, which will include a total of 12 channels, including the local stations. The cost for the new “Basic Service” will be $18 per month. The current basic package will be renamed “Extended Basic”, and cost $45 per month. Premium channels will be an additional cost.
The board also voted to pursue the upcoming downtown enhancement grant, and will seek funding to replace sidewalks on the north and south sides of the square, in front of the old hotel and post office, and along West Main from The Media east to Johnson Street. Like the previous downtown project, the grant funding is available through a MoDOT grant program.
Estimated overall cost for the project will be $285,000, if the city does the sidewalk removal work. The city will seek a 65/35 matching grant, meaning the city’s cost in the project would be approximately $100,000.
The board’s vote to approve the plan was pending an insurance review and a review of whether the city crew could safely remove the sidewalks.
One issue around the square will be the existing canopies over the sidewalks, which will need temporary support while the sidewalks are removed.
MECO Engineering of Hannibal is handling the grant application process, and the deadline to apply is Friday.
Building permits were also a point of discussion for the council.
“How can we make sure they have a permit before construction starts?” asked Alderman Wood.
City Ordinance 500.030 states that “no wall, structure, building or part thereof shall hereafter be built, enlarged or altered …” without a permit being issued by the city. More than one of the four permits approved at Monday’s meeting had already begun construction.
In other business, the council:
-Heard a request from Brian Crane to support a litter pick-up program. Crane requested $400 per month to organize volunteers. The city took no action.
-Joe and Ann Edlen expressed their appreciation for the city extending the sewer line to their properly.
-Dennis Frazier asked for cleanup and an addition plug-in at the city’s truck parking lot.
-Jeff Arp of the Missouri Intergovernmental Risk Management Association (MIRMA) presented Police Chief Bill Conger with a grant to reimburse the cost of a dashboard camera for one of the city’s police cars. The cost of $3375.
-The board tabled a bid of more than $200,000 from Visu-Sewer to inspect, clean and locate problems in the city’s more than 95,000 linear feet of sanitary sewer.
-Wood reported the Water Department is working on determining production, transmission and distribution costs for water in Kahoka. A report will be made at the December meeting.
-Fire Chief Lary Fountain reported pump issues with two trucks. The board agreed to repair one, and the new truck may arrive next month.
-Gave approval to the election ordinance and wage ordinances for William Irvin and Jeremiah Sherrill.