A special committee will look into the cost of live-streaming Canal Winchester City Council meetings, an initiative city leaders rejected two years ago because of cost.

At that time, the estimate to outfit council chambers with proper equipment for the broadcasts included $21,000 for installation and cameras priced at $4,000 each, city Finance Director Amanda Jackson said.

"And that didn't include any type of maintenance," she said. "It's not an inexpensive venture."

She added that live-streaming would fall under public records laws, and council would have to discuss "how long we'd have to store an enormous amount of data."

While it's not clear who would serve on the committee, council members and city staff members are expected to make up the group that will look into costs and maintenance. Councilwoman Jill Amos said she believes there are less expensive ways of live-streaming meetings.

Amos, who is administrative assistant to the assistant superintendent of Pickerington Schools, said that district spends $500 annually to live-stream board of education meetings, plus $2,000 in costs for equipment.

"There are ways to overcome (costs)," she said. "I'm surprised at the number of people who are going out and listening to our minutes and trying to listen to the audio.

"I come across so many people lately who are taking a genuine interest in our city, which is fantastic," she said.

"It is a question of how much something like that would cost weighed against the priority of having it," Council President Bruce Jarvis said. "I think everybody understands and respects transparency in government. ... The demand or priority has to be weighed against the cost of it."

Jarvis noted that during most meetings, "we usually speak to empty chairs. But there are those times when you get a full house, and it's difficult to get everyone in here."

Canal Winchester currently posts meeting agendas, minutes and audio on its website, canalwinchesterohio.gov. Recordings of council meetings and other commission meetings are typically posted two days later.

Councilman Patrick Lynch said council could consider setting up a laptop computer that "catches the majority of the room, and it costs absolutely nothing to operate to stream out to all community members."

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