Commissioners Talking Webcast

A live webcast of Kent County commissioners’ meetings might be set up depending on cost. A webcam with microphones would be aimed at the commissioners’ desk. Commissioners Alex Rasin, William Pickrum and Ron Fithian asked Scott Boone, director of information technology, what would be required. County Administrator Susie Hayman said recordings should be kept for a year to comply with state law.

Boone said there are several options including commercial webcasting sites or creating the county’s own website. With a commercial site, the county would not be able to control any associated ads. The commissioners did not think recording would be necessary. “They can watch it live, and when it’s over it’s over,” said Fithian.

Asked if Chesapeake Bay Internet Associates would charge for the changes to put streaming video on, Boone said they had not been contacted. The commissioners’ office does not have a contract on file with CBIA. For its website, the county has been billed $176,215 in the past five fiscal years, an average of $35,243 per year. Over the same period, according to Town Manager Bill Ingersoll, Chestertown has paid $8,400 a year, or $42,000, to the same provider.

Since beginning about 10 years ago, county web services have never been put out to bid. Asked why, Fithian said, “It’s easy to say there were mistakes made. When it started (10 years ago) we had no idea what it was all about.” Pickrum said a website “paid for by the public should be owned by the public.” Rasin said not everything is billed to the county; for example, there was no charge for an updated photo of him taken for the web page. The coming budget would involve a close look at what the county pays. The commissioners did not say if the broadcast system would be available to other boards that use the same room, such as the planning commission.