Politics
8:52 am
Sun May 12, 2013

Slay Says STL-TV Is Luxury City Can't Afford

St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay
Credit St. Louis Public Radio

The St. Louis Board of Aldermen will resume discussions next week of the city’s budget for the upcoming fiscal year.

The budget presented to the board by Mayor Francis Slay totals $985 million.

Among the cuts to the budget that Slay is proposing includes essentially eliminating the city’s cable TV channel, known as STL-TV.

The cut was rejected by the board of estimate and apportionment, but Slay says he remains confident that the Board of Aldermen will see that STL-TV is a luxury the city can’t afford.

“The fact is virtually nobody watches it,” says Slay. “There’s no detectable audience and the taxpayers are paying in excess of $900,000 a year to pay for a television station that virtually nobody watches.”

Slay says like to use the savings to fund additional 13 police officers as well as fund an initiative to reduce health disparities in low-income neighborhoods.

In the past Slay has spoken of the need to reign in the city's ballooning pension costs for police, fire, and municipal retirees, which is expected to reach nearly $100 million next year.

Slay says his plans would not completely scrap STL-TV.  His budget does preserve money to pay for streaming video of the city’s board of Aldermen meetings, as well as pay for city’s cable TV regulation obligations.  Still, he says the savings would be significant.

“That would leave, and free up, in the neighborhood of $700,000 that we could use to put more cops on the street, to support hot-spot policing which has been a very effective crime deterrent and crime-reduction initiative in our neighborhoods,” says Slay.

STL-TV produces a roster of local programs and employs 11 full-time staff.

Follow Adam Allington on Twitter:  @aallington