Suamico board favors using funds for streaming meetings
By Kevin Boneske
SUAMICO – The village board has authorized using up to $36,253 of Suamico’s Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding allocation to add video streaming capabilities in the board room in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Board members heard a presentation Monday, Oct. 19, from Brent Ward with FAITH Technologies on a proposal from Camera Corner Connecting Point of Green Bay on upgrading the audio-video system in the board room so meetings can be broadcast and streamed online.
He said the project will provide the infrastructure to record board meetings for broadcasting and streaming, while the village could use its existing storage capabilities to keep meeting recordings.
Ward said it will cost around $20,000 to upgrade the equipment, which he expects should be useful in the board room for another eight years with the way technology is going, while the other approximately $16,000 for the project will be for the video portion to stream meetings for free on Facebook and YouTube.
“Facebook and YouTube are pretty locked in to what they’ll allow you to stream to them, as far as resolution,” he said. “With the cameras being proposed, and what’s being proposed as far as the infrastructure here, there are several years that you wouldn’t have to touch it.”
Ward said the cameras could be set up for manually zooming in or automatically panning over the room.
“We could record any meeting, in addition to streaming,” he said. “We wouldn’t have to stream it to record it, so any meeting we wanted to hang onto or view or keep the record, you’d be able to record video and audio of those meetings.”
Village President Laura Nelson said streaming the meetings could be a way to get more citizen participation.
“If they have something connected to the conversation that we’re having, that would be a way for us to connect the dots, so to speak,” she said.
Trustee Dan Roddan said adding recording/streaming capabilities to the board room could possibly also be used for municipal court.
Trustee Sky Van Rossum, who called the overall project cost “wild,” said it would be more difficult to approve spending around $36,000 if the village didn’t have CARES Act funds allocated.
“For us to spend $36,000, when we’re to the teeth right now in the budget as it is, and have been for so many years, there’s other very important things that would have to fall,” he said. “But given the situation that we’re in right now, and given the fact that we have the CARES money, my sense is, as expensive as this is, if we don’t do this now, we’re going to be faced with greater urgency to do this in the future, and we’re going to be faced with budgets where we’re going to have to find money in our budget, and we’re going to have to make compromises that I don’t think any of us want to make.”
Village Administrator Alex Kaker said a survey of village residents found 53 percent of the respondents agreed or strongly agreed with having some kind of a streaming service.
Kaker said the village has a Nov. 6 deadline to use its CARES Act allocation, which came to $207,040, so a purchase would have to be made by that date.
Though the board’s motion left open the possibility another company could submit a lower bid for the project by Nov. 6, Ward said he would be “very surprised if someone beats this number” quoted by Camera Corner.