Council meetings will still air on Comcast – for now, anyway.
Last week, the Spokane Valley City Council agreed to continue the month-to-month contract with Community Minded Television to replay meetings on Comcast on Monday evenings at 6 on Channel 14. It costs the city $3,000 a month to do so.
The vote, however, was not unanimous. Council Member Bob McCaslin, without saying why, voted no. Council Member Brenda Grassel was not present at the July 27 meeting.
The council agreed in June to continue airing the taped meetings, which began in January after the Spokane Valley Business Association initiated the first contract. The SVBA’s agreement, however, was only temporary for six months.
Acting City Manager Mike Jackson said the city’s current arrangement is also, at best, temporary. He recommended that money, which the city has available, should be earmarked for the broadcasting of meetings in the 2011 budget.
“It’s certainly something we could do,” he said.
Council Member Dean Grafos agreed with that idea didn’t want to get too specific what to pay for.
“I think we have some options,” he said.
Council Members Bill Gothmann and Rose Dempsey advocated for approach that would include making use of $150,000 provided by Comcast to purchase equipment to record meetings for broadcast.
“It’s the right thing to do,” Gothmann said.
Carlos Landa – a Sprague Avenue business owner – agreed.
“I think the issue of transparency has been in the paper a lot lately,” he said, adding that the money should be put in the budget. “(Televising meetings) is a really positive thing.”
It’s been previously estimated to continue the current cable-TV arrangement plus allowing for playback over the city’s Web site (which cannot be done 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.
Jackson said he and staff would spend more time researching the issue to have new hard numbers for the types of services that are available.
Community Minded TV broadcast the first council meeting on Jan. 11. DVDs of the meeting were also made available at the Spokane Valley Library. The SVBA solicited donations for six months to defray its $1,300-per-week cost.
The council initially decided to take over the expense of televising the meetings in June. However, it decided it would wait until after a budget workshop in July to make a more firm decision on how to progress.