“The status quo not sustainable,” Larchmont Trustee Sarah Bauer told her fellow Board of Control members Wednesday night. “We need to have some hard conversations.”
She was facing representatives from the Village and Town of Mamaroneck, and members of the Board of Directors of LMC Media which is partially funded by cable franchise fees from the three municipalities. The 40 year-old arrangement is fraying under the weight of diminishing revenues as more and more residents “cut the cord” and rely on internet streaming for their home entertainment.
Before the franchise fees vanish permanently, Larchmont has sought to get some of that cash, previously demanding a $100 thousand disbursement from the BOC for its village capital fund, a move the other two partners say would cripple LMC Media, which produces TV and on-line content for the three communities.
The award winning non-profit covers local meetings and recently aided FEMA in visually documenting flood damage from Hurricane Ida. As franchise fees have dropped, LMC has increasingly pivoted to fundraising and charging production fees for some services. It operates a studio at Mamaroneck Town Center and a mobile TV truck, but has reduced its staff from 7 to 4 in recent years as funding has been slashed.
Larchmont has been unhappy with the arrangement for some time and claims a “lack of transparency” in the LMC operations, although its own decision-making process in withdrawing from the agreement has been somewhat opaque. The unilateral decision to withdraw was discussed solely in trustee work sessions. according to Bauer, and Larchmont residents were notified by e-mail and Facebook with no trace of the official notice on its Village website. In reaction to Larchmont’s sudden move, the BOC voted Wednesday night to begin televising its meetings for the first time.
Bauer insists Larchmont wants to “come to an agreement in the next year,” before the official withdrawal date. Village of Mamaroneck Mayor Tom Murphy, representing the senior partner in the agreement, told her “Its an interesting way to negotiate to say you’re leaving if you don’t get your way.” Town of Mamaroneck Trustee Abby Katz, the third member of the BOC, told Bauer flatly “we’re committed to giving our portion of the franchise fee for LMC.” Larchmont clearly has other ideas.
The next Board of Control meeting is scheduled for December 7th and will be available to view via Zoom.
Editor’s note: The writer is a frequent volunteer contributor to LMC Media