Soon, Worthington City Council meetings will be accessible to those beyond the council chambers.
On March 19, City Council approved an ordinance that will pave the way for the city to live-stream and archive its meetings.
At a cost of about $92,000 for the first year, Worthington will pay Texas production company Swagit Productions LLC to install cameras in the council chambers, "direct" recordings of the meetings and then archive them for those who want to watch the meetings after the fact.
City spokeswoman Anne Brown said the videos would be synced with the night's agenda so viewers could watch a certain topic. While the meeting is underway, she said, there will be an "obvious" link on the city's website, worthington.org, to watch live.
"After the meeting is over, people can go back and watch it, and if they're looking for a particular agenda item, they can click on whatever agenda number it is and be taken directly to that point," she said.
Brown said city officials anticipate having the live stream operational sometime this summer.
Brown said a Swagit team will set up the cameras and microphones and multiple team members will be watching when meetings occur. They will control the cameras and microphones to create a cohesive video.
"They'll make sure everything is working correctly and do the switching on the cameras and be there through whole meeting to make sure it's produced in a way that people can see and hear and get a gist of the meeting whether they're there or not," she said.
Brown said Swagit would use its own servers to store and archive the video, meaning no extra work will be required from city staff members.
"It's all done remotely; we won't have any additional servers here that are storing anything," she said. "Really, the only equipment we'll have here is the cameras."
Council President Bonnie Michael said she is looking forward to giving busy residents and those with families a way of watching meetings without carving out multiple hours of their Monday evenings.
"We're really pretty excited about it," she said. "It gives the opportunity for those people who cannot attend a meeting a chance to see what's happening in our meetings."
Michael and other council members frequently have discussed their desire to project a transparent and communicative image to residents, and Michael said providing meeting video and audio is another step toward that goal.
"You can't be any more transparent than having people see your meetings at their own convenience," she said with a laugh. "It makes it one step closer for people to be able to see what City Council is doing, and if they have questions or want to know more or have comments about something we're doing, this opens the door for them to be able to do that without having to attend the meeting."
The city is expected to spend the $92,000 on startup costs for the project, but $80,000 will come the Community Technology Fund, which is separate from the city's general fund.
The CTF does not have an ongoing source of funding.
Maintaining the video equipment and service is expected to cost about $30,000 per year.