Time will tell if the four mayors who voted to ax TV30's "Live at 4" news show, the Tri-Valley's only local television news programming, did the right thing for their constituents. As a cost-cutting measure, it was an easy decision. TV30's annual budget, restricted by a fixed-fee collection arrangement with Comcast, has been relatively static in recent years at about $430,000. Sponsorships, grants and some production work added enough to support a $550,000 annual budget, which the mayors just approved for fiscal 2008-09 that started July 1. TV30 was woefully overspending its budget, with the result that the mayors of the four cities the station serves--Jennifer Hosterman of Pleasanton, Marshall Kamena of Livermore, H. Abram Wilson of San Ramon and Janet Lockhart of Dublin--had to ask their city councils for emergency appropriations totaling $250,000 in 2007 and again earlier this year to keep TV30 on the air. Runaway spending at TV30 by two executive directors who came and went in as many years was much of the problem, including architectural drawings for a new studio building, which was never built, new software and broadcast equipment and a leased van. Although the improvements helped TV30 move into the digital age with more on-site reporting, costs soared to well over $250,000 for each of the last two years. Financial analysts showed the mayors that by cutting TV30 news, they could wipe out the budget excess in one swipe and balance the new budget.
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