City leaders narrowly passed a vote in favor of installing new technology to broadcast public meetings. The new system will allow the meetings to be streamed online more reliably and in higher definition.
(TNS) — A proposal to install new technology to broadcast city meetings in the new city hall building passed with a 4-3 vote at Tuesday’s Pullman City Council meeting.
Councilors expressed concern about spending $141,337 to install new audio visual equipment in the city hall building located on Crestview Street. The city is anticipating a possible budget deficit between $4 million and $6.9 million because of how the COVID-19 pandemic is hurting revenues.
The new system from Avidex is intended to improve livestreams of Pullman meetings and boost the audio quality for the audience.
Currently, city council meetings are streamed online in standard definition. The new system will allow meetings to be broadcast in high definition, with easier uploading to YouTube.
City Administrator Adam Lincoln said this was a budget item approved in 2017. It was initially approved to replace the audio visual system in the current city hall chambers room.
Lincoln said the city’s current broadcast system is more than 20 years old and the sound equipment takes two to three hours to warm up.
Pullman Finance Director Mike Urban said the city decided to apply these dollars to the new Pullman City Hall, which is currently under construction.
“So this is just money that has been saved in the IT fund over time and it’s been waiting for this opportunity right in the middle of the construction right when the walls are open and ready to be wired,” he said.
Councilor Ann Parks said if the city puts off this purchase, “then it’s really pointless to finish city hall and put in the walls and everything because we need to install the infrastructure while the structure is ready to do it.”
She said failing to install the equipment also means the city is failing in its duty to provide transparency and openness to citizens.
Councilor Eileen Macoll said just because it’s been budgeted, doesn’t mean the city has to spend the money. She said the city could continue to hold meetings online over Zoom or RingCentral and put off this purchase for a few more months.
“This is an awful lot of money to basically ask the public to swallow,” Macoll said.
In-person city meetings would be allowed under Phase 3 of Gov. Jay Inslee’s phased approach to reopening the state, which allows gatherings of less than 50 people. Construction on the new city hall is expected to be completed at the end of August.
City Attorney Laura Macaloon said if this contract doesn’t go forward then there will be no broadcast capability from the chambers room.
Councilors Nathan Weller, Pat Wright, Dan Records and Parks voted in favor of the proposal. Al Sorensen, Brandon Chapman and Macoll voted against it.
At another point in the meeting, Pullman Mayor Glenn Johnson and Records gave the council an update on the city survey designed to help guide businesses and nonprofits on how to prepare for reopening. The poll closed Monday.
Johnson said preliminary results show 67 percent or more respondents said they would feel comfortable visiting businesses that enact safety measures such as employees and customers wearing masks, limiting the number of customers and employee temperature checks.
Records said he was pleased that 2,400 people completed the survey.
“Some of the early results are kind of telling for how I think businesses can respond to assure and improve customer confidence in entering their businesses,” Records said.
©2020 the Moscow-Pullman Daily News (Moscow, Idaho) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
Looking for the latest gov tech news as it happens? Subscribe to GT newsletters.