PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Citing financial woes, the Board of Directors for Peoria’s public television station voted to slash their budget by $1.5 million.
Board Chairman Andrew Rand read from a prepared statement during the board’s monthly meeting that the station, WTVP, had lost $560,000 last year.
The board, Rand said in a statement, has been working since spring to improve its finances. But losses from 2022 seemed to be reoccurring in 2023 and due to “certain questions” which had arisen during the 2023 audit, the board was given the option for the cuts.
The cuts, which aren’t specified and no timeline is given for the cuts, will reduce the station’s budget to pre-COVID levels. And also mean the station is going, essentially from a $5 million budget to a $3.5 million budget, which is at the break-even point.
Additionally, he said during the meeting that there had been some unauthorized, questionable, or improper expenses. He didn’t elaborate nor did he comment after the meeting beyond a press release.
“The Executive Committee has accumulated papers and documents letters, and financial records that provided insight into expenditures and uses of funds of WTVP that were questionable, unauthorized or improper. We believe such expenditures have been stopped,” Rand said.
He said such expenditures have been stopped and now every purchase and expense is being reviewed.
“This is a critical time for WTVP and the current staff and board are 100% committed to ensuring WTVP remains a viable entity serving our community,” he said.
In the past week, questions had been circulating on social media by concerned viewers regarding the station’s fiscal well-being as well as that of his parent corporation, Illinois Valley Public Telecommunications Corporation.
The move will take the station back to funding levels not seen since 2019, Rand said during the meeting. When asked after the meeting what those cuts would look like, he declined to comment.
“We must be clear that should revenues decline to less than $3.5 million, WTVP would have to further reduce costs,” he said during the meeting.
In his statements, Rand noted the audit from 2022 had more than 40 adjustments that lowered the station’s income by $200,000. He also said that since last summer, the board has been working to get more accurate financial statements.
In January, he said, the executive committee of the board stepped in as “management was failing to achieve their promise of break-even operating results and improved cash flow.”
The station’s former manager and CEO Lesley Matuszak died on Sept. 28 at her West Bluff home. Her death came one day after she resigned from her position at the station.