Commission considers $17,500 for Internet access to meetings


300-PAUL-K-WILLIAMSON-DPA-CUnder increased pressure from the community, Historic City News readers, and its editor, the St Augustine City Commission will hear a proposal to restore Internet monitoring of all city commission meetings from Director of Public Affairs, Paul K Williamson, at their regular Monday evening meeting.

The proposal, presented by Williamson, originates from Swagit Productions, located in Plano, Texas; a vendor who will not only provide management of the installation, but also live monitoring to ensure optimum performance and to address any technical problems immediately. This is an essential part of this agreement since it became apparent that no one on city staff possessed the skills or ability to intervene when the service went down last year.

“The streaming service will carry all regular and special meetings of the City Commission, the Planning and Zoning Board, and the Historic Architectural Review Board,” Williamson told Historic City News editor Michael Gold in a follow-up e-mail on Friday.

Explaining to City Manager John Regan that the interruption in the city’s Internet streaming of public meetings was “unanticipated”, and was, therefore, not part of the FY2013-14 budget, Williamson asked for commission approval of funding for this service, in the amount of $17,500, from any “unappropriated funds balance”.

In addition to live broadcast of the two city boards, a notable enhancement to the previous service, obtained through a “piggy-back” arrangement with St Johns County Government Television, includes the “on demand” search of past meetings. All meetings will be indexed by Swagit Productions staff — making it possible to skip to specific agenda items of past meetings without the need to watch an entire four, or five, or six-hour-long gabfest.

If funding is approved, Williamson told Historic City News, “We will move quickly to establish on-line delivery of meetings coverage.”

By way of reference, Swagit Productions has recently started providing streaming service to the St Johns County Board of County Commissioners, and currently provides service for a number of other Florida local governments including: Fort Pierce, Daytona Beach, Clay County, Santa Rosa County, Escambia County, Miami Lakes, Pensacola, Tamarac, Riviera Beach, Bay County, and Atlantic Beach.

If you are planning to attend — the regular St. Augustine City Commission meeting will begin at 5:00 p.m. Monday and will be held in the Alcazar Room; on the first floor of City Hall, located at 75 King Street in St. Augustine. It may be broadcast live on Comcast Government TV (Cable Channel 3).