For years, official records of Scott County board meetings have existed only in their minutes.
That may change.
Supervisor Diane Holst is proposing that the county begin taping the supervisors' meetings, saying it would provide a record of the proceedings and help people who can't make it to the bi-weekly sessions.
At the least, Holst wants to have audio recordings posted to the county's website. But, she says, if the price is right, videotaping the meetings might be a good thing, too.
Holst, however, is encountering resistance from other supervisors who say such recordings would be a waste of money and the proceedings already are available to people either by attending or reading the minutes.
The issue has come up before. Last year, Holst proposed the idea, but it went nowhere. Now, with the county beginning to put together its fiscal year 2017 budget, Holst said it's time that supervisors join other local governments in turning on the microphones.
"Everybody records their meetings," Holst said. "This is the day and age we're in."
County officials say it would cost about $10,000 to $12,000 to upgrade the audio system in the board room. But the two existing cameras are designed for security purposes and are placed on the ceiling. A demonstration of those cameras Tuesday showed supervisors at a distance, and it was far different from what viewers see when they tune into cable access television to watch the city councils in Davenport and Bettendorf.
County officials couldn't say Tuesday how much it would cost to upgrade to a similar system.
Supervisors Tom Sunderbruch and Jim Hancock, the board chairman, said Tuesday they are against the idea. Both cited cost considerations. Hancock also said that in the time he's been on the board, if people are truly interested in an issue, they show up.
"I just think it's a waste of resources, and we shouldn't do it," Hancock said.
Supervisor Brinson Kinzer said he is on board with the idea. Meanwhile, Supervisor Carol Earnhardt didn't definitively say one way or another but said she wasn't impressed with what some other counties were doing and wanted to ensure that if Scott County records its meetings, on video or otherwise, it be a quality presentation.
After the discussion Tuesday, Hancock, who presides over meetings, said it was his belief that a majority of the board wasn't on board and it was time to move on.
This may not be the end of the issue, however. Holst said afterward, "We'll have more discussions."
An Iowa State Association of Counties survey Tuesday found that of 51 county responses, 31 did not record their meetings. A Quad-City Times check of the state's 10 largest counties found that six are videotaping their board meetings, and four are not, including Scott County. Of the four that weren't videotaping, two did post audio recordings to their websites.
The videotaped meetings usually are posted to county websites or to YouTube.
Holst said that, at the least, she wants to see an audio recording of Scott County meetings. Currently, she uses a handheld recorder to tape meetings.
"My goal is to have something available for the public on our website that they can be aware of what’s going on," she said.
It's not clear where the debate goes from here. Hancock said he did not oppose further study of the idea, but he said he didn't think any changes would be made for the 2017 budget or for the rest of his tenure on the board.
Hancock has said that he will not seek re-election this year. Sunderbruch also has indicated he won't seek re-election.