Board still divided over online video telecasts

By Joe Beck

WOODSTOCK — Members of the Board of Supervisors remain at odds over whether to broadcast their meetings through online video.

The issue, which surfaced in early February, flared again Tuesday night when Supervisor Conrad Helsley announced he had obtained commitments from private donors willing to pay for the annual cost of $1,200 needed to add video to existing audio bandwith. A one-time cost of $2,200 to pay for new cameras is also part of the package.

Helsley said he expected the addition of video would attract a much larger online audience for board meetings than the current audio-only recordings.

“I think this will open it up and make it much better for the people,” Helsley said of the introduction of video recordings at board meetings.

Supervisor Cindy Bailey, who criticized the initial proposal for online video more than three months ago, remained unmoved. Bailey has called the proposal an unnecessary expense.

She pressed Helsley to disclose the identities of the donors he said he has lined up. She also repeated earlier objections to maintenance and other ongoing costs associated with video equipment.

“It does cost, and there’s going to be maintenance,” Bailey said of video, adding “there needs to be more disclosure about this topic.”

Helsley offered no details about individual donors, but he continued to defend the value of online video.

“I think we all want to be more transparent,” Helsely said. “We’ve all heard that for a long time, and here’s a chance to be more transparent.”

Board Chairman David Ferguson said the board will consider online video again at its June 10 meeting.

In other matters, the board unanimously approved an ordinance allowing information on the criminal history of county job applicants to be distributed among county officials, representatives and employees whenever such background investigations are deemed necessary as part of the job screening process.

The ordinance also applies to those seeking county permits or licenses.

Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or jbeck@nvdaily.com