Woodstock City Council meetings soon will be available to watch online.
Beginning this winter, each of the council’s twice-monthly meetings will be livestreamed and archived to the city’s website.
The City Council approved a contract Oct. 3 with web video company Granicus for a year of service for $8,752, which includes a one-time setup fee of $3,700 and an annual subscription fee of $5,052.
The agreement begins Nov. 1. Once technical issues are ironed out and the equipment is in service, people will be able to watch council meetings on computers, tablets and mobile devices, in real time or after the meetings have concluded. The video service likely will launch sometime in January, city officials said.
Council members also approved spending $15,200 on related equipment upgrades, including new microphones, digital sound mixers, a projector, a computer and three video monitors for the council chambers.
In all, the project was approved at a cost not to exceed $29,350, a total which surprised some members of the council. Expenses for streaming were not included in this year’s budget.
“I support streaming the content, but I was also shocked by the cost. I would like to see some options that cost less,” Councilman Dan Hart said.
Councilman Jim Prindiville, the lone no vote, said he thought there were cheaper ways of making the meetings available online. He suggested the council make audio recordings of the meetings and upload them to the city’s website.
“I wanted to ask the City Council to consider postponing the decision until our next meeting,” Prindiville said. “I would like to see staff present information on the advantages and disadvantages of putting our meetings in an audio podcast form.”
Free options, such as streaming video to Facebook — which was discussed during the council’s workshop last summer — wouldn’t allow the meetings be indexed or archived on the city’s website, woodstockil.gov.
“I think we have an incumbent responsibility to try to get the council meetings out there and livestreaming, and certainly, to be properly archived,” Mayor Brian Sager said. He added the agreement was not the most expensive option the city explored.
“This was not the Cadillac version,” Sager said.
Councilman Mark Saladin said residents have long called on the council to make meetings more accessible, and so he was willing to accept the expense.
“The cost is a consideration, and yet, a lot of people would say it’s high time that you do it,” Saladin said. “We’ve been talking about it for so many years.”
City Council meetings are held at 7 p.m. the first and third Tuesday of each month.