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Most city cable TV subscribers to see monthly bill increase more than $8

Bardstown City Council members, from left, Joe Buckman, Kecia Copeland and John Kelley.

 

By JIM BROOKS
Nelson County Gazette / WBRT Radio

Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2018 — Every subscriber to the City of Bardstown cable TV system will see a rate increase effective Feb. 1st — but how large an increase will depend on how many channels are part of each customer’s subscription.

The monthly increase to basic cable — channels 2-22 — is about $5.40. The increase is due to rate hikes from the Louisville TV broadcast channels, who said their rate increases were due to increases in the costs they must pay for network programming.

The majority of Bardstown Cable TV customers subscribe to expanded basic. Expanded basic subscribers — which includes basic cable plus channels 23-79 — will see an additional monthly increase of $3.02.

The combined rate hikes for the basic cable and expanded basic cable tiers amounts to about $8.42 more per month.

BRINKSMANSHIP. Facing a Dec. 31 deadline, the city successfully negotiated last-minute agreements with Louisville broadcasters WHAS and WLKY, the two stations which had not reached retransmission agreements at the council’s last meeting Dec. 26. Had the stations not reached individual agreements (or extended their contracts past Dec. 31), those cable channels would have gone dark.

MAYOR DICK HEATON

Eric Richter, city staff electrical engineer, explained that the rate increases are “pass-through” increases that result from programming increases.

“I would like to stress that of the customer’s entire cable bill, $7 is what we hold onto to cover operating costs,” he said. “Everything above that is the cost of programming.”

The council did not vote on the rate increases because ordinances governing the cable TV rates pass along programming cost increases directly to subscribers.

OTHER CABLE TIER INCREASES. Digital Basic subscribers will see this tier rate increase 94 cents per month. Extended Digital Basic subscribers will see a 13-cent increase, while HD Xtreme subscribers will see a 4-cent monthly rate increase.

DRAMA AMPHITHEATER UPDATE. During his update of the problems that led to the abrupt closure of the J. Dan Talbott Amphitheatre, Mayor Dick Heaton reported that the original order that also closed the drama offices was later set aside after Heaton provided proof the offices could be isolated from the electrical problems in the lower part of the complex.

“We’re trying to work here locally the best we can to come up with a plan to address the structural and electrical issues, and there are some major issues there,” Heaton told the council.

After discussions with state officials, the drama association — along with city officials, county government, Salt River Electric and an engineer hired by the drama association — was granted permission to access the amphitheater in order to assess the problems and come up with a plan and the costs, he said.

“We think if we can get the state’s co-operation and approval that its doable” Heaton said of having the amphitheater open in time for the drama’s 60th season this summer.

“People are already reaching out, asking how they can help financially and so forth,” he said.

Heaton gave credit to state Sen. Jimmy Higdon and state Rep. Chad McCoy for their help with the progress that’s been made.

“It’s not a done deal,” he stressed. “The amount of calls I’m getting from people willing to help is encouraging.”

There’s no funds in the current state budget to cover any repairs or upgrades at the amphitheater, but Heaton said he was hopeful local legislators could help secure some funding in the next budget in the current session of the Kentucky General Assembly.

Chief Financial Officer Tracy Hudson reviewed the city’s 2016-17 audit with the council Tuesday night.

FIRE CHIEF REPLACEMENT. According to Greg Ashworth, the city’s human resources director, the fire chief selection committee has forwarded the names and resumes of the top three candidates it has selected for the mayor’s consideration.

Heaton said he has not yet completed his review, but plans to make a selection soon.

In other business,

— Tracy Hudson, the city’s chief financial officer, reviewed the audit of the city’s 2016-2017 budget. The audit was performed by Linda Gray of Louisville-based Peercy & Gray.

Hudson praised Mayor Dick Heaton’s involvement in monitoring the city’s financial health following overspending the audit found in the previous year’s budget.

— The council gave final approval to the addition of a part-time engineer job to the city’s classification and compensation plan. Former Public Works Director Larry Hamilton who retired last year will be working on a part-time basis to assist the city with some ongoing projects.

— The council approved a resolution authorizing the mayor to apply for a grant from the Kentucky Department of Homeland Security for $3212.90 to replace five body armor vests that are five years old or older. One vest is 9 years old; two are 5 years old; and two others are 6 years old.

— The council approved re-appointing Dr. Sarah Ballard to a three-year term on the Historic Review Board.

NEXT UP. The Bardstown City Council next meets at 7 p.m. Jan. 23, 2018, in the city council chambers adjacent to the Rec. Center on Xavier Drive.

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