Bedford radio proposal gets OK
BEDFORD — A town radio station application, eminent domain, a $30 million road bond, a fire substation and changing from calendar to fiscal year budgeting were some of the top issues addressed at the Sept. 25 Town Council meeting.
The Town Council gave BCTV station manager Bill Jennings approval to submit an FCC license application for a low-power radio station in town.
Jennings outlined the projected costs of the project, which would be paid for by BCTV capital improvement reserves and enterprise fees from Comcast subscribers, with no costs to taxpayers.
Phase 1, which includes engineering assessments and FCC filing, would cost $4,400.
Phase 2 would include remodeling part of the BCTV annex into pre-production and broadcasting rooms, and purchasing studio and transmission equipment for $56,000 to $65,000.
In Phase 3, the recurring studio costs are projected at $31,000, which includes hiring a consultant to run the operation, and training and supervising volunteers; and licensing fees, building maintenance and utilities.
The filing period is from Oct. 15 to 29, and there are no guarantees Bedford will be chosen.
The council decided to delay a public hearing on taking a portion of a Joppa Hill Road property by eminent domain. The hearing has been rescheduled to Nov. 13, to allow for more negotiation and the signing of a compromise.
The town has been negotiating with Faith and Chris Schuetz, of 306 Joppa Hill Road, to obtain 260 feet of their land to improve the sight distance at the intersection of Joppa Hill and Cider Mill roads. The sight distance at the intersection of Joppa Hill and Cider Mill roads is currently 138 feet, when design standards are 390 feet. The property owners are concerned about losing the historic character of the circa-1880 property, which they have owned since 1980.
The Town Council has revisited changing from a calendar year budget to a fiscal year to bring spending more in line with voters’ approval of budgets in March. Currently, the town begins spending in January, and collects its taxes in July and December. Past councils have discussed the change in 2005 and 2009.
On Sept. 25, the Town Council decided to table further discussions and not change accounting practices. The topic was one addressed at the council’s mini-retreat on Sept. 18.
The council discussed the financing terms of a $30 million road bond it is expected to bring to voters in March. The consensus of the council is to go with a 15-year bond rather than a 10-year bond. In comparison, a 15-year bond would cost $329 annually for a property assessed at $400,000; a 10-year bond would cost $440 annually for a $400,000 assessed property. The finance charge is greater but the tax rate would be lower.
The town’s proposed 2014 budget is scheduled to be presented on Oct. 25.
A professional consultant will present a study to the council on Oct. 9, including the costs, equipment, staffing and site analysis of building a substation along South River Road. Fire Chief Scott Wiggin has said the increase in EMS and fire calls warrants serious discussion for a substation because the South River Road corridor has grown in population and businesses.
If the council approves a substation, it would be added to the 2014 budget, which goes before voters in March.