Woodstock City Council meetings could soon be accessed online if officials move forward with a plan to record them.
At a workshop July 18, council members discussed different ways to broadcast the body’s twice-monthly meetings. Proposals ranged from basic — uploading video of council meetings to YouTube, for instance — to more advanced options that would use a service to livestream, archive and index the video on the city’s website.
Cost estimates varied, too. Except for the expense of buying a camera, using YouTube or other social media would be free, while hiring a company to manage the web video could cost thousands of dollars, Mayor Brian Sager said.
“Staff has done a great job of identifying four different vendors and four different packages that they could offer,” Sager said. “One was a ‘Rolls-Royce’ type of thing with a Rolls-Royce price tag on it. Another one … was a riding lawn mower version.”
Using a middle-of-the-road web video service would cost about $5,000 a year, according to Dan McElmeel, the city’s director of information technology.
Councilman Jim Prindiville suggested the city might save money by taking an audio-only approach to recording the meetings — something like a podcast.
“I think fundamentally, this is good for transparency, but what really matters is what’s said,” Prindiville said. “And if it’s going to be more economical to do a podcast, I think that meets our goal of transparency.”
(Currently, council meetings are audio-recorded for the purpose of taking minutes, but those recordings are not retained as part of the city’s permanent records.)
Others said offering video would be a better option.
“There is something to be gleaned by also having video as a part of it,” Councilman Mark Saladin said. “… If we’re going to go down the path of doing it, we might as well do it right.”
This year’s city budget does not include money for streaming council meetings, according to Paul Christensen, the city’s finance director and assistant city manager. If the council opts to move forward with a plan, they will need to pass a budget amendment, he said.
City Manager Roscoe Stelford said the council likely will vote on the issue in September or October.