Supes look into streaming meeting audio

In an effort to make meetings more accessible and transparent, the Lassen County Board of Supervisors noted, they are looking into live-streaming the audio from the board’s Tuesday meetings.

During the Tuesday, Feb 26 meeting, the board directed county staff to pursue the idea of setting up a system to stream the audio from the meetings on the county’s website, lassencounty.org, and coming up with coordinating policy.

According to the memo shared with board members during the meeting from County Administrative Officer Richard Egan, who was not present at the meeting, “County information services department staff, along with Lassen County Office of Education, have identified and tested the ability to stream audio of the board of supervisors meetings for the public … the potential benefits are to provide greater transparency for board discussions and decisions affecting our community, all-weather access to board meetings, and greater access for residents who may lack transportation or who are unable to attend meetings in person.”

The memo to the board also noted the estimated start-up cost is about $1,500, with an annual service fee starting at $250 and up, depending on usage. The annual fee is not expected to be more than $1,000. There are also some factors that need to be worked out, as to whether or not the live-streamed audio needs to be closed captioned, per ADA requirements.

“Accessibility improves transparency and trust,” the memo read. “Audio meetings online increases engagement with local government and provides citizens greater opportunity to be better informed.”

The supervisors asked present information services department staff what the possibility of incorporating video would be like, if the county wished to go that route.

The there would be an extra cost to implement a video live stream, according to Jason Housel, of the information services department.

There were also some concerns addressed during the meeting, regarding the ability to turn it off for closed session — which would be easy to do by the clerk, according to Housel — and personal attacks made during the stream.

The board and staff discussed setting up rules and procedures and a civility policy to mitigate the risk.

Ultimately, the board directed county staff to look into setting up a test to stream the meetings’ audio, while coming up with coordinating policy.

The matter will be back before the board at a later meeting.