Lucas City Council Going High-tech with Streaming Video
The May 3rd Lucas City Council agenda was routine and absent any controversy or drama but it did contain a rather remarkable proposal --- “Consider video streaming options for City Council meetings”.
City Manager Jodi Clarke briefed council members on a plan to begin live streaming council meetings that she explained would be, “Another tool to keep our community informed”. Ironically, except for less than a dozen individuals who had stakes in one of the agenda issues to come before the council, the chamber was largely empty.
Bill Baxter, of Baxter IT, a technology consultant for the Lucas City Council, described the proposal as, “A great solution. Wylie has a similar system running and everyone loves it.” Produced by Swagit Productions, LLC, a company that provides hands-free video streaming and broadcast solutions to local, state and federal governments, the system is capable of streaming council meetings within two to four hours after a meeting concludes. It will archive all council meetings indefinitely and also features a word-searchable database so anyone can view all discussions about a particular subject. Search “water” or “road construction”, for example, and you will be furnished quickly with all references to any discussions before the council that included the key word searched.
The cost of the video streaming system is $19,000 for the setup and equipment and approximately $11,400 annually thereafter for maintenance. While it appears that council members support the proposal, Council Member Debbie Fisher recommended deferring action until the council begins its budget preparations for the next fiscal year. Council member Tim Baney asked to see analytical data from systems now in place involving viewership. Baney cautioned, “We need to ensure that the system would actually attract those who would want to view council proceedings.” Mayor Jim Olk pointed out that citizen’s input and interest in the system could be promoted and measured using the town’s monthly newsletter, Lucas Leader.
While action to approve the proposal was deferred for now, barring any surprises, it looks like the Lucas City Council will soon go digital bringing council meetings into residents living rooms, something that would materially enhance the transparency of the City’s governance.
In other business the council set 8:15 am on May 15th for a special council meeting to canvas election results for the May 5 General Election in which three City Council seats appeared on the ballot.
Liz Exum, Finance Director, informed the council that budget adjustments are required to recognize better than anticipated financial performance of the city and projects year-end retained earnings of $117,059 for the General Fund. During the discussion Exum noted, “This is all good news”. The proposal was adopted unanimously.
Founder’s Day for 2019 was proposed for May 11, 2019. Mayor Pro Tem Kathleen Peele explained that the somewhat later date is recommended to avoid April weather that has been problematic in the last several years. The proposal was unanimously adopted.
Several other agenda items involved utility and roadway construction issues and all were approved.
The Lucas City Council will meet next on Thursday, June 7, 2018.