LARCHMONT, NY — The “L” in LMC Media may soon be silent after the Village of Larchmont confirmed its intention to opt out of a cable board agreement with its two closest neighbors.
“It is what it is,” Larchmont representative to the Tri-Municipal Cable Board of Control Sarah Bauer declared at Tuesday’s public meeting and with those words, divorce proceedings were set in motion after a nearly four-decade-long marriage.
The relationship first started to show signs of strain last month.
In a public notice dated November 5, The Village of Larchmont Board announced its intention to withdraw from a longstanding tri-municipal cable TV sharing agreement. The pact was formed by the Village of Mamaroneck, Town of Mamaroneck and the Village of Larchmont as a way to create greater bargaining power when negotiating franchise fees with cable television companies.
Larchmont-Mamaroneck Community Television (LMC Media) was founded in 1983 as a result of the agreement. A portion of the franchise fee collected helps to fund the substantial percentage of the budget for LMC Media.
LMC Media’s stated mission is to connect, create, and inform the community through the use of digital media. The organization, its experts and teams of volunteers and students strive to accomplish this lofty goal with work in classrooms in the Mamaroneck Union Free School District, broadcasting of local public meetings and scheduled programming highlighting the hidden stories right here in our own neighborhoods.
LMC also offers hands-on training and opportunities for Larchmont residents who want to learn more about creating digital media content — regardless of their age, gender, financial status, physical or other challenges or previous experience.
But, the surprise move by Larchmont elected officials could spell the end for LMC and the village’s bargaining power when it comes to negotiating cable franchise fees.
In announcing Larchmont’s decision to depart the agreement, Bauer left open the possibility that the village might reach an agreement with LMC on their own, separate from the decades-long agreement currently in place. This was a notion Mamaroneck Mayor Tom Murphy, who was chairing the meeting, dismissed outright.
“I think we have different goals,” Murphy said. “I think you’re going to use our population to better your deal.”
Bauer countered that the decision was made to protect Larchmont taxpayers from an agreement that lacked appropriate transparency. Perhaps ironically, her comments came at the end of a nearly hour-long public meeting in which the LMC budget was presented and discussed line-by-line.
This prompted Murphy to question exactly how transparent Larchmont officials were in making the decision to end a shared public service that provides the latest dance, art, film and stage productions from the community’s high school students and was a resource for information on how to help neighbors devastated by recent floods.
After Murphy questioned if officials in Larchmont actually voted to officially terminate the agreement, Bauer insisted that the village trustees were in unanimous agreement. She admitted that the matter was discussed during a “work session.”
“I’ve heard the word opaque from Larchmont, but it seems none of your decisions happen in the open,” Murphy said. “You do what you’ve got to do. It doesn’t behoove me particularly to negotiate with Larchmont.”