Julia Burrows is the Deputy City Manager for the City of Roseville.

With municipalities striving to provide services to residents in the wake of widespread budget cutbacks, every dollar helps. And sometimes, it’s not how much money is available, but how we are able to use it that makes the difference.

That’s why the City of Roseville is supporting passage of HR 3745/The Community Access Preservation Act. This congressional bill would allow local governments to more flexibly allocate funds collected from video subscribers – funds that are already paid through a monthly fee on their bill.

Currently, these monies, known as PEG (Public, Educational and Government) funds may only be used for equipment or facilities needed to provide PEG programming.  HR 3745 would allow funds to be used for both capital equipment and operations.

With the price of technology dropping, capital equipment is now a smaller percentage of the cost to operate local access channels. With the recent conversion from analog to digital broadcasting, access stations across the country planned for and upgraded their equipment. Now, the critical need is staffing as many cities and counties do not have the trained staff to operate the access channels due to lay-offs, furloughs, and hiring freezes.

With local budgets tightening, a flexible solution allowing local governments to use the funds for capital equipment and staff resources will ensure that locally produced programming is available. This is especially important during these extraordinary times when decisions regarding local services are being made every day and citizens demand transparency in their government.

When our cities and counties have the opportunity to maintain and even increase the quality of services without increasing costs, the public wins.

The bill is currently in the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. To voice your support, contact the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Tammy Baldwin, your local representative in the House of Representatives, and Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer.