During the Orange Township Board of Trustees meeting on Feb. 22, Trustee Ryan Rivers proposed appropriating $6,745 for a video system to record and live stream the township’s trustees meetings.
However, according to Trustee Debbie Taranto, Fiscal Officer Joel Spitzer and Administrator Lee Bodnar, the $6,745 for the system was never put into the township’s 2018 appropriations budget.
“I know it wasn’t budgeted,” Spitzer said. “We didn’t budget for a video system.”
Rivers said he thought the system would be good for the awareness and the engagement of the community and believed there were several residents that would like to attend meetings but scheduling conflicts prevented attendance.
“I think it will be a great way to increase our engagement and let those that can’t make it to a meeting would be able to tune in,” he said.
Rivers had originally proposed the idea at the trustees’ Jan. 16 meeting where he received the go-ahead from both Taranto and Trustee Lisa Knapp to look into a system.
Taranto said she was 100 percent on board with the idea, but there had been discussions about recording video and then using YouTube as the archive. She asked Bodnar to share information from his research into purchasing a system.
Bodnar said the focus of his research centered around the cost of the equipment and the quality of the production.
“There were concerns that when you elevate to that level what is the production quality?,” he said. “What is the cost of the equipment that is utilized? Is it suitable for this environment? Does it do the board justice or does it put out a less than palatable product?”
Rivers approached the Delaware County Data Center in hopes to “piggyback” onto the county commissioners’ system in order to reduce cost.
“The Delaware County Commissioners have a platform they use that allows their meetings to be live-streamed,” he said. “Then after the meeting, it automatically gets saved online where you can watch any meeting in its entirety.”
Rivers said as far as the product, it’s been successful for the commissioners.
“I don’t think there are any questions as far as getting a product that doesn’t meet our standards,” he said. “This would all be hosted on the county’s data center, and it’s something easy to piggyback off of.”
Spitzer said the township is only allotted so much space on the county’s servers and that it might impact the township’s ability to archive meetings.
Knapp commented on the quality of the video produced by the commissioners’ recording system.
“I’ve watched the county commissioners before and don’t find the picture to be very high quality,” Knapp said. “It’s kind of grainy. Is there anything that is a little bit better quality?”
Taranto said she would like to see three bids from separate vendors.
Rivers and staff from the Delaware County Data Center met and discussed the options of adding a system to the township hall. He presented a proposal to the board of trustees at the Feb. 22 meeting from the county data center.
Rivers said that a signal camera setup would be “sufficient” for the township’s needs.
“The higher amount is for a picture-in-picture, which the commissioners use for their meetings,” Rivers said. “We’ve determined that there wasn’t really a need for our setup to have the picture-in-picture.
Rivers said it would be a one-time fee to purchase the equipment.
“The $6,745 would give us the one camera and provide us all that we need to get started,” he said. “Then, at any time if we wanted to add the picture-in-picture option, we can go back and do that.”
Rivers said the terms and conditions are being reviewed by the prosecutor’s office. He said since there doesn’t seem to be any issues, it could be approved any day.
“As far as cost, I don’t think you’re going to find a better option out there,” he said.
To date, there has not been a resolution nor have trustees taken official action to appropriate funds for the video system.
Contact D. Anthony Botkin at 740-413-0902. Follow him on Twitter @dabotkin.