Marysville City Council is continuing to work on a project to make meetings more accessible.
At Monday’s council work session, City Manager Terry Emery explained that about a year ago he asked city staff to review options to post video of council meetings online, “to determine what might be the best way for us to approach this moving forward.”
As part of that effort, last year’s city council appropriated $57,000 in the 2020 budget to make the process happen.
City IT Director Aaron Story said the project has been “on the burner, off the burner for years, depending on the priorities of council.”
He explained there are a variety of options, with a variety of one-time and recurring costs.
“The question is, ‘How do you want to present yourself to the public?’” Story said.
City IT staff member Tyson Fewins presented four of the options – a do-it-yourself model for posing on social media using existing equipment, upgrading equipment and posting to social media, hiring a third party vendor to attend meetings and video then post the meetings online and installing equipment and hiring a vendor to run the equipment remotely and post the videos online.
Fewins said the last option would be the IT department’s recommendation. He said other systems might be cheaper, but this allows the city the most options and gives the city “the most bang for the buck.”
He cited a quote the city solicited last year. He said it would cost $45,000 to install the necessary equipment.
“That would be a one-time cost,” Fewins said.
He said it would cost about $12,000 for the vendor to record, produce and post 25 meetings. The price would increase to about $16,140 for 50 meetings.
Fewins said the vendor would be able to add the council agenda and to connect agenda items to a time marker on the video. Additionally, the vendor would be able to eventually be able to create a transcript of the meeting.
“I am more concerned about housing and having people have access to these in the future,” said council member J.R.Rausch.
He said people that are interested in council items and can come to council should. He said there are some residents who cannot attend the meetings and do not want to watch two hours of meeting to see the portion they are interested in.
Council member Aaron Carpenter said he spoke with many residents who wanted the meetings live streamed. He said he provided a video of the last meeting and he heard nothing but positive comments.
“I disagree with that completely,” Rausch said, noting that commenters complained about the audio and one viewer called the city “Rinky dink.”
He said not everyone uses Facebook. He added that many people are not informed because they do not look for information.
“We could get them in the car and drive them somewhere and they would say they didn’t know,” Rausch said.
Council member Mark Reams said city information is “100 times more accessible than it used to be.”
“We keep doing more and more and more and it seems like people complain more and more and more,” Reams said.
Council member Donald Boerger said he has “mixed emotions about this. He said he wants the city to have a professional production but does not want to spend the money, “when we already have so many avenues.”
Council member Deb Groat said she and her husband often watch news together and the conversation often goes negative. She said she hates to facilitate an option that allows residents to not attend meetings and to go negative.
Additionally, she said she would always rather spend funds to hire people.
Reams agreed that having people watch meetings and comment from home is not always positive.
“Whatever solution we decide to do, we have to ask, does this add to the meeting or does it detract from the meeting?’” Reams said.
Emery suggested sending the matter to a council committee because members could talk about options for hours. He said a committee might help narrow options.
Rausch said he would like to continue the debate, “but it needs to be all seven of us.”
After an hour of discussion, Council President Henk Berbee agreed to place the discussion on next month’s work session agenda.
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