Before taking a break this week for the holidays, the Spokane Valley City Council finished up some longstanding business.
At their Dec. 14 meeting, council members finally – though not unanimously – agreed to spend the money to purchase equipment that will allow for the broadcasting of meetings over cable television and the Internet.
Cable company Comcast collects a 35-cent monthly fee from its city subscribers, and $60,000 will go toward the $100,800 approved for the equipment, labor and Web hosting. The rest will be paid through the city’s general fund – the council authorized $46,000 to be earmarked in the city’s 2011 budget.
Council Members Bob McCaslin and Gary Schimmels voted no.
With their own equipment at their disposal, city officials could have greater control of content and scheduling of broadcasts than currently provided on Comcast channel 14 via Community Minded Television. Live or recorded video could be placed on the city’s Web site and even archived and footnoted for easier access.
Currently, the city’ pays $36,000 annually to Community Minded TV, and the council meetings are broadcast the following Monday evening. Live meetings are impossible to produce because footage collected from two cameras must be edited, graphics added and recordings made on DVD.
Further details on how broadcasts will be done in the future will be discussed sometime in early 2011.
Also last week, the council approved contracts for street sweeping, road repair and drywell maintenance. A $1.5 million contract with Poe Asphalt for street maintenance was passed in a close 4-3 vote because some council members – McCaslin, Dean Grafos and Brenda Grassel -- believe the costs passed on by Poe for union wages is too high.
Neil Kersten, the city’s public works director, has argued that the speedy response Poe gives to the city makes the higher wage costs, negotiated with the Teamsters and Operators unions, worth it.
Kersten added that the $200,000 more the city will be paying to Poe in 2011 factors in additional work that needs to be done.
However, the council did unanimously approve the city’s $490,000 annual contract with AAA Sweeping for spring and summer street cleaning. Another contract, not to exceed $200,000, was made with AAA for vactoring, which is the removal of debris from the city’s drywells.
The council next meets on Tuesday, Dec. 28, at 7 p.m. at Spokane Valley City Hall, 11707 E. Sprague.