Though no decision was made on the future of Craig's Channel 27 at the Moffat County commissioner meeting Wednesday, the future looks bleak for the television station.
Channel 27 co-owner Jerry Thompson came to the meeting to urge the county to continue to fund the station but with cuts urgently needed for next year's budget, the commissioners were less than sympathetic.
The county television budget is $82,450.
"That $80,000 is one cut we need to make," Moffat County Commissioner Marianna Raftopoulos said at the beginning of the discussion.
Moffat County Commissioner Darryl Steele agreed, saying, "We have to make these cuts where they will affect the least number of people."
Steele said that the indication he has received from county meetings shows that not many people use the county station. For example, at a senior snowplowing workshop, only 3 out of 45 seniors said they watched county television.
Steele said that surprised him because he had expected seniors to make up the majority of county television viewers.
Thompson said he didn't know what the percentage of viewers losing their television would be. And no one in the room had a good solution for finding a number of viewers.
Rather than arguing that cutting the channel's funding would hurt county citizens, Thompson argued that the county would not save that much money by cutting the channel because there are parts of the cost that the county would still be obliged to pay.
KMFU, K27, and AT&T all lease translators from the county. Those leases run through March of next year and the county must transmit their signals until then.
There also is a possibility that the county is legally bound to transmit the signals of Denver stations. Moffat County Commissioner Les Hampton suggested that the county explore its legal obligations.
"If we're not legally bound to transmit other signals, then turn it off," Hampton said.
So far this year, the county has paid $53,830.53 to maintain its eight translator sites.
That number can be expected to increase more than $70,000 by the end of the year.
Les Hutton, operator for the county translator on Craig's Sand Rocks peak, charges a monthly fee of $3,416 for translator maintenance. Thompson told the commissioners Hutton would drop $12,000 from his fee but that still leaves the county with at least $58,000 in translator maintenance fees alone.
The rest of the station's subsidized budget goes towards electricity.
"If we don't cut $80,000 out here, we'll have to cut it somewhere else," Steele said. "Is that going to be someone's job?"