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Council decreases funding for KSMQ

During a budget work session Monday, the Austin City Council took a close look at 13 "quality of life" measures seeking funding.

Its biggest cut was in funding to KSMQ-TV, which got $12,500 in 2011.

The same amount was initially proposed for 2012, but the council voted 5-2 to approve $7,000 in funding for the station. The amount requested by the station was $25,000.

Council members Marian Clennon and Judy Enright voted against the motion made by council member-at-large Janet Anderson.

The council voted to put the $5,500 in savings into the contingency fund.

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In a 4-3 vote, the council voted to remain in, and keep funding, the city's involvement with the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities in the same amount as 2011: $45,605.

The coalition helps lobby for items such as local government aid and help for the Waste Water Treatment Plant and Austin Utilities for environmental issues.

"LGA is a huge thing for the city of Austin," said Mayor Tom Stiehm. "I think it'd be silly to drop it.

"I think it's money well spent."

Anderson, Jeff Austin, Steve King and Brian McAlister voted in favor of Anderson's motion to remain in the coalition. Roger Boughton, Clennon and Enright voted against it.

The council also tabled a vote on the city request for volunteer recognition. The $800 request helps fund the annual recognition ceremony for citizens who volunteer in city departments.

Other than that, the council approved the same amount of funding for 2012 as these groups received in 2011: Human Rights Commission ($3,500), Welcome Center ($5,000), Memorial Day wreath (called the Mayor's Wreath; city request) ($150), Fourth of July Celebration ($6,000), Christmas in the City ($855), Community Band ($1,000), Local Artist annual art award (city request)($500), Austin Symphony Orchestra ($2,500), Employee Appreciation/Wellness Program ($1,500), and League of Minnesota Cities ($15,995).

The budget discussion Monday was a follow-up to the council's meeting Sept. 6, during which it voted to move forward with a maximum 13 percent levy increase for the 2012 budget. The levy can still be reduced before the final budget but can't be increased.

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