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Ken Croken

Croken

A divided Scott County Board of Supervisors appears ready to hit stop on buying the technology to record its meetings and post them online for public access.

While there was not a formal vote at the committee-of-the-whole meeting Tuesday morning, the supervisors were split 3-2 on the issue. Supervisors Ken Croken and Brinson Kinzer favor moving forward on the long-debated issue.

The cost, which had been included in the 2019 budget, as well as the perceived demand for the service were among the stumbling points for the other three supervisors. 

Calling the costs "staggering," Supervisor Ken Beck said the county's practices of providing minutes abides by state law. 

County staff reported an estimate of $177,441 for equipment, hardware and software from vendor Granicus, as well as staff time to implement the system. There also are estimated included annual costs of nearly $40,000.

Surprised by the ongoing costs, Beck said "Say we have 100 hits on the site, we're talking $400 a person. I won't support spending this money to go to videoing." 

Supervisor John Maxwell said the $250,000 budgeted for the system "would be better spent on other areas." He added budgeting "was by no means a commitment that we're going to do it. We just put it there (as a placeholder)."

The debate began after IT Director Matt Hirst provided the estimate for camera and audio-visual equipment, video storage, captioning services and other software. The proposed system would index each recording so website users can jump to a particular agenda items to view. 

"While I think the system is cool, could save our staff some time, it's not worth the money to be spent," Chairman Tony Knobbe said.

He said many Scott County homes could be made lead-free, or veterans and indigents could receive additional services with that money.

"The impact on staff time and the number of people visiting the website are not the reasons we are doing this," Croken said. "This is about transparency. The traffic will grow over time. ... This is our obligation to engage with our citizenry and make this technology available."

The board has discussed the issue since 2015.

Kinzer criticized the board for pushing the issue "down the road again."

"I don't see what the issue is," he said. "We need to do it and we need to think about moving these meetings as well." 

He has advocated for changing meetings to times more people could attend. Committee of the Whole meetings are held on Tuesdays at 8 a.m., regular meetings are held on Thursdays at 5 p.m.

"I truly do believe we're transparent. We're just not convenient," Kinzer said.

Although the matter was not on Thursday's board agenda for a vote, Croken said after Tuesday's meeting he had requested it be added.

"So individual supervisors can go on record on where they stand on bringing Scott County to the same level of transparency and openness that has been achieved by every other community in the region," he said.  

Croken said under the resolution, information technology department would be directed to implement an electronic meeting management system, complete with online access to indexed audio and video transcripts. The cost would not to exceed 0.2 percent of the county's $90 million budget.

The regular board meeting is at 5 p.m. Thursday at the Scott County Administrative Center.

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