Cable television subscribers could pay an additional $2 a month for basic service under an agreement being negotiated between the city and Group W Cable.
The City Council on Tuesday tentatively approved a contract that allows the firm to raise the basic $6.95 service rate by $2, provided the city does not have to pay back the balance of an advance on franchise fees it obtained from the firm. The balance is $64,000.
Gardena officials began negotiations with Group W after the company approached the city. The firm, which is also seeking to renegotiate franchises in other South Bay cities, has said that higher-than-expected construction and operating costs forced it to request a fee increase.
The proposed increase, which would become effective immediately, comes 18 months before basic service rates are deregulated under the federal Cable Communications Policy Act of 1984. The city will have no control over rates after deregulation.
Dick Waterman, Group W's director of corporate affairs, said the firm would probably boost its basic service rate by $2 a month, but has not yet made a decision. Customers will be given ample notice, he said.
Under the agreement, Group W would also be allowed to deactivate the second part of a dual-cable system, which would reduce the number of potential channels from 120 to 60. At present, there are 54 channels operating on the system.
The agreement also calls for Group W to contribute $50,000 a year for community programming on the cable system's public access channel. In exchange, the city would drop a franchise provision requiring the company to pay 3% of its gross franchise fees for such programming. Last year, the city collected $40,000 from the fees.
At present, Group W has 5,400 subsribers in Gardena. The firm was awarded a 15-year franchise in 1982.
The City Council is expected to approve the agreement at its meeting on May 14.
Kenneth Landau has been appointed city manager, succeeding Martin Reagan, who resigned four weeks ago.
The City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to appointed Landau to the $64,656-a-year post. Landau, 30, was appointed acting city manager after Reagan, citing a desire to escape the pressures of his job, stepped down.
Landau joined the city seven years ago as an administrative aide, and has served as assistant city manager for the past three years. He lives in San Pedro.
Reagan, 61, was city manager for two years.