Danedri Thompson
After months of discussion, a council meeting that devolved into a physical altercation and a cost estimate of more than $40,000; Gardner City Council meetings are now being videotaped and are viewable online at a cost of $1,752.
The video quality isn’t top of the line and the meetings aren’t being streamed live, but the videos can be viewed online typically within 24 hours of a meeting.
“Next day service, and it’s out there, and it was cheap,” Laura Gourley, city finance director, said.
Original estimates for broadcasting city meetings showed a cost of between $10,000 and $40,000. But after some investigation, and heated debate at council meetings, Gourley said city staff found a way to offer the service at a greatly reduced cost.
Initial cost estimates included live streaming. That, Gourley said, is costly.
“Live is much more expensive than waiting for the next day,” she said.
The cost to make meetings available for city viewing plummeted when city officials determined that offering the service live wasn’t a priority.
“When we decided live wasn’t all that important, then we ended up with the idea for a security-type camera from a city in Missouri,” Gourley explained.
She admits the video isn’t high quality.
“You can’t tell if my lipstick is smeared on screen,” she said.
And the camera is static. It doesn’t pan or move. It simply focuses on the council table and shows the podium. The audio, however, is clear and those viewing can get a real sense of what happened during a city council or planning commission meeting.
To date, two meetings are available for viewing online – the Jan. 17 city council meeting and the Jan. 24 planning commission meeting.
Residents can access the videos through the city web site, www.gardnerkansas.gov, by accessing the meeting agendas and minutes. Or, the city now has a YouTube government channel where Gardner meetings can be viewed at www.YouTube.com/user/CityofGardnerKS.