Residents unable to attend Reynoldsburg City Council meetings could soon be able to listen to recordings of the sessions, in addition to reading minutes on the city website.
Reynoldsburg City Council is expected to adopt emergency legislation June 11 to approve a contract with Sound Communications for a complete update of the sound system in council chambers at a cost of $46,418.95.
Council heard the first reading of the ordinance May 29.
"A large chunk of the sound system is original to the building, although there have been pieces added to the original system," Clerk of Council April Beggerow said. "I am hoping the recordings will be clear so that I can properly transcribe them for the minutes."
Most pieces of the city sound system date back to the 1990s, she said.
Because the council room microphones have not been working properly at times, it has been necessary for Beggerow to write "inaudible" into the transcribed minutes when someone's comments cannot be heard.
"The Sunshine laws do not require verbatim descriptions of comments, but the City Council members prefer a verbatim description of the meetings," she said.
She said the four microphones farthest from the control panel either don't work at all or don't work well enough for recordings and on May 15, the floor microphones also began to fail.
"The recording playbacks were nearly inaudible," she said.
The sound system update would allow Beggerow to post a podcast or recording of each council meeting, which could be available on the city website for up to two weeks.
"I had a sound cloud account where I was posting the recordings, but the recent recordings have been so bad that I didn't post them," she said "People sounded like they were under water."
According to the proposed contract, Sound Communications will rebuild the sound system, including the head unit located in the council records room, including new wiring, new control panels and microphones.
The company will also install hearing-assistance devices for hearing-impaired audience members and new computer/recording hardware and software.
Councilman Marshall Spalding said a new sound system is sorely needed.
"We need an update not only for City Council meetings, but also for the school board, since they use our building," he said. "There are so many new mechanisms to communication now, and people really do want to know what is going on."
He said many citizens are not able to attend City Council or school board meetings because of their schedules.
"This update is really for the citizens of the city," Spalding said. "There is no one that sits on the council that would not support this."
Beggerow said the city did receive another bid for the work, but it was for $20,000 for a partial rebuild of the system. She said it included only the replacement of the head unit, wiring and a new control panel, with no upgrades to the microphones or recording software.