At a March 4 City Council meeting, a unanimous vote paved the way for the videotaping of City Council and Planning & Zoning meetings.
The new multimedia services contract, which will include live streaming, archiving and monthly usage reports, will replace audio recordings of City Council meetings.
A representative from Plano-based Swagit Productions, which handles Southlake and Colleyville City Council video streaming as well as others, told Mayor pro tem C. Shane Wilbanks and fellow city leaders that the equipment would be installed no later than 45 days after receiving the deposit check.
Wilbanks pointed out that while audio recordings only are helpful to him because he knows all the voices of the city staff, that others interested in city government might not have that ability.
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The mayor pro tem said it would be a “great educational tool” allowing visitors to the site — including students — to not only see the city officials in action, but be able to view interesting elements such as when area Boy Scouts lead the pledge of allegiance at meetings.
Mayor William D. Tate agreed that it was important for people to be able “to see” their officials at work, but the septuagenarian said he still felt a twinge of sadness over how the electronic age has robbed some of the younger generation of the ability to write because they depend mainly on typing on electronic devices.
Swagit will install cameras in the council chambers and in the room used for planning & zoning commission meetings.
The $1,350 monthly cost would cover approximately 50 meetings per year.
Local watchdog group A Better Grapevine has been shooting video of City Council meetings and posting them online for months.
Kathleen Thompson, a member of the group founded in 2011, was elated at the decision to give the green light to video.
“I’m very happy,” Thompson said. “It’s about time. Residents have the right to know what decisions were made and how.”