While nothing is official yet – and the main proponent was absent on Tuesday when the discussion took place – it appears the Spokane Valley City Council may continue to support televising meetings over cable television.
That support, however, will likely only be per month – at least for now.
Next Tuesday, council members will consider a motion to continue to broadcast council meetings on Monday nights at 7:30 p.m. over Community Minded Television’s Comcast channel 14. The cost to the city would be about $3,000 a month, Greg Bingaman, the city’s technology specialist, told the council at Tuesday’s study session.
“We can continue on a month-to-month basis,” Bingaman said.
Up to now, the Spokane Valley Business Association, through private donations, has picked up the tab for the broadcasts, which have occurred since January. The meetings are taped with one camera and operator, and then edited for the Monday broadcast. The SVBA’s commitment expires at the end of the month.
The council has a budget workshop scheduled for July where it will become clearer what the city’s longtime budget prognosis will be. Until then, it’s unlikely the council will support moving forward with making the meetings available on the Web, which – coupled with the broadcasts over Comcast as they’re occurring now – would require a one-time cost of $3,050 and an annual payout of $45,600.
There are also the options of real-time broadcasts with a DVD of the meetings made available to the public. That would cost $13,050 for start-up plus recurring costs of $40,600. Live broadcasts that are recorded that could later be played on the Web would cost $28,050 initially for equipment, plus the same $40,600 annual cost.
The latter recurring amounts, Bingaman said, could be less if in-house city staff handles the operations.
“That could reduce the costs dramatically,” Bingaman said.
Council Member Rose Dempsey said she was supportive of keeping the meetings on TV, even if it were just for cable customers and not those who have satellite or receive transmissions via antenna.
“I think we ought to continue,” she said.
Council Member Brenda Grassel asked Bingaman who was paying for the DVDs that have been made available at the Spokane Valley Library and if that were something the city could do, as well as post video on the Web.
Bingaman said that the DVDs are provided by Council Member Bill Gothmann (who was not present at the meeting) at no cost to the city. He added that the city’s Web site does not have the capability to stream video at this time.
Council Member Dean Grafos said he was supportive of continuing with the month-to-month arrangement with Community Minded Television but would like a cost breakdown of also putting video on the Internet.
Mayor Tom Towey agreed.
“I’d like to take a good look at our options,” he said.
A formal motion will go before the council next Tuesday night at 6 at City Hall, 11707 E. Sprague.