Videos of meetings by boards and commissions in Easton will soon be posted to the town’s website. The Board of Selectman approved the measure during a special meeting on Monday evening.
Online access to meeting videos will be in addition to the meetings being broadcast on Cable Channel 79, but will give people the opportunity to watch the meetings at their convenience. Meetings that are typically recorded include those by the Board of Selectmen, the Board of Finance, the Planning and Zoning Commission, Annual and Special Town Meetings and public hearings.
Selectman Kristi Sogofsky has been working for several months with Doug Dempsey, Area 9 Cable Council representative, to expand access to the videos. The project gained a greater urgency in recent weeks with the limiting of public gatherings.
The selectman voted to allocate $7,890 to launch the pilot program. This includes $5,000 for the set-up, design, development and continued updating of the online meeting platform, which will be part of the town website. It also includes a new laptop, video editing software and a video host subscription.
The current Channel 79 operation is funded through the cable company, Altice, as required by law. The Area 9 Cable Council administers the money in the form of grants to participating towns for the operation of the public access government channels. The grant is typically around $5,000 per year, which covers camera and server equipment, repair, upgrades and hiring a videographer.
Many neighboring communities in recent years started allocating additional funds to supplement the Cable Council grants. They use the additional money to make the meetings available online, or cover more meetings.
The plan is to include current meetings, as well as an archive with past meetings, with an option to download the video file.
The selectmen also discussed the options for live streaming meetings, particularly those that include public participation. They did not make any decisions but will continue to look into the options.
An exact launch date for the online meeting videos has not been determined but they are expected to be available within a week.