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Johns Creek council hesitant to fund system to stream meetings online
by Nicole Dow
September 10, 2013 12:44 PM | 2975 views | 5 5 comments | 32 32 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Johns Creek council members were not sold on the idea of spending $69,000 from the 2014 budget for a system to stream public meetings online. Mayor Mike Bodker and the City Council approved the budget for the upcoming fiscal year Monday, taking the funding earmarked for the system and adding it to the contingency fund instead.

“We’ve done that before where we have approved a budget and held a certain number out for a later vote,” said Councilwoman Karen Richardson.

City Manager John Kachmar said only City Council can move money out of the contingency fund.

While council members agreed the system seemed like a good concept, they were concerned about the cost and if the demand was large enough to warrant it.

“I’ve never had requests for this,” said Councilman Ivan Figueroa.

Kachmar said he talked to officials in neighboring cities that stream public meetings online. He said Milton has an average of eight viewers per meeting and Alpharetta has 54 average viewers.

Bodker said he has received numerous requests over the years to have public meetings streamed online and that is the reason he suggested funding the system. While it may be convenient for the public to make it to the 7 p.m. regular council meetings, many are unable to be at City Hall at 5 p.m. for council’s work session meetings, he said.

Councilwoman Kelly Stewart said she had heard from citizens about the desire to view meetings from their computers.

“I’m all about open transparency and letting people watch,” she said.

Councilman Randall Johnson said he supports transparency as well but brought up the fact the meetings are audio recorded and said the city clerk does a great job of recording the minutes from meetings.

“[The video recording system is] a great concept … but I would like to leverage dollars to pave subdivisions,” he said.

Johnson said the $69,000 could pave about three subdivisions.

Councilman Brad Raffensperger challenged his fellow council members to think up another way to help fund the video streaming system without it taking away from money that could be used for paving. Richardson suggested the videos of council meetings could still go online without actually having to stream them live.

By placing the amount budgeted for the system into the contingency fund, the council can vote at a later date whether to actually use that money as originally planned, come up with a less expensive option for the service or just use the money for paving projects or something else instead.

Is $69,000 too much to spend to stream city council meetings?

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