A local videographer who has been doing work for the city of Tahlequah has learned his services won't be needed, at least for the time being.
Jeremy Scott, owner of Scott Media, says he was told his contract had been suspended due to budget constraints.
Tahlequah Interim City Administrator Alan Chapman told Scott his agreement was being "suspended" not long after he produced a video over the renovations to Phoenix Park. Since that time, several people have inquired about the situation.
Mayor Sue Catron said the city is examining every contract and expense for possible savings. However, she pointed out the contract between Scott Media and the city has not been eliminated altogether.
"The terms of the contract provided for up to five videos per month, at $200 per video," said Catron. "If our city administrator determines that a video is needed, I am certain he would consider calling Mr. Scott for assistance."
This isn't the first time Scott has felt uncertain about his future with his work with the city. In July, drama unfolded during a City Council meeting when the topic of renewing his contract was on the agenda.
Catron had expressed her concerns with a large commitment for videography. Since Scott's contract was for $200 per video for up to 10 videos a month, Ward 1 Councilor Bree Long echoed the mayor's words and added that the costs were "astronomical."
Catron wrapped up that debate by saying she felt some videos produced by Scott had "very little context" and could have been filmed on a cell phone.
Long had also argued the city could hire other videographers at a much lower price than Scott was charging.
Nevertheless, the Council renewed Scott's contract, but at five videos produced per month, for $200 per video.
That meant Scott took a 50 percent cut.
"Last year, I agreed to take a 50 percent pay cut due to city finances being reportedly in dire straits," said Scott. "Then was informed I'd be taking 100 percent pay cut - through February 2020, as of now - because said finances have regressed further."
The mayor said there have been administrative changes, but more changes are needed before the city can balance its budget for the next year.
"As it is, we're still spending almost $100,000 per month more than we are getting in revenue in the General Fund," said Catron.
Scott said he asked whether Tom Barnard's contract had been "suspended" as well. Catron said Barnard's contract has two different components.
"The first is providing video services recording City Council meetings. The second part is much like Mr. Scott's -- it provides for other video production for a $200 fee," said Catron. "This second portion of Mr. Barnard's contract and Mr. Scott's contract are on an as-needed basis."
Catron said that since those contracts were renewed, Scott Media has produced 18 miscellaneous videos, whereas Barnard Media has produced one.
Barnard is paid $400 per month to videotape the City Council meetings, which occur once or twice a month. His contract was reapproved unanimously during the regular July meeting.
Those videos are usually put up on the city's website the day after the meetings occur.
"Neither contract has been 'changed,'" said Catron.
Scott said he hasn't seen any budgetary information that could prove or disprove the reason for his suspension, but he believes video isn't considered a critical service.
"However, Tom Barnard continues doing video work for the city, so maybe not all video is being put in the same service slot. That does seem a bit selective, but I only have the info that I have to draw my own conclusions," said Scott. "If it's not truly a budgetary issue, then it can only be of a political nature. That wouldn't be the first time I've had a political wave come crashing down on me, but heck, that's life."
Both Barnard's and Scott's contracts state that payment under the agreement is contingent upon the availability of funds from which payments can be made.
The contracts read: "Funds are available for performance under this agreement when appropriate or authorized by the city of Tahlequah. No legal liability on the part of the city for any payment may arise here under until funds are made available by the designated officer of the city for performance and until [Barnard Media], [Scott Media] receives notice of availability from the city's designated officer through issuance of a purchase order."
While there is no termination clause in either contract, Scott's does say videos were to be overseen by the public relations specialist and city administrator. Both those positions have been eliminated at this time.
Media inquiries to Barnard were not returned by press time.