Improvements for the chambers of the Turlock City Council were approved at the July 8 City Council meeting, meaning updated audio-video features will be provided for those who choose to view the Council meetings from home.
The approved motion, pulled from the consent calendar for more in-depth discussion Tuesday, will allow Shalleck Collaborative Inc. of San Francisco to provide design recommendations not to exceed $51,110. The actual construction would follow the layout of these design services.
The City’s Development Services proposed to complete the upgrade in a pair of projects: the first to “solicit proposals from design professionals to develop and design a state of the art audiovisual system for the Council chambers along with any necessary lighting and accessibility upgrades,” and the second to complete actual construction.
According to City of Turlock Treasurer Diana Lewis, there have been technical features that Council has had trouble with over the years that they have been “patching together.”
Currently, there are five cameras within the chambers, but according to Lewis, three of them are not working, leaving the communication broadcast of the meeting somewhat limited. The agenda packet regarding the issue reads, “the audiovisual system, stage lighting and accessibility in the Council Chambers are in need of repairs, improvements, and upgrades.”
An important budget aspect of the project? It won’t really be the City paying for the update; instead the money will come from cable companies who provide funding for public, educational, and government access channels, also referred to as “PEG” channels.
Because the money the cable company gives can be used for communications only, the City has a specific budget set aside consisting of these funds. The PEG money has to be used in a way where the government will be communicating directly with the public, according to Lewis, whether that be training, broadcasting or other similar activities. The money has to be spent on equipment, not for operations.
In other words, the money cannot be used for long-term pay for operators, such as creating a communications center like California State University, Stanislaus has.
“We’ve been saving for this project for many years now, and we have over $800,000 in the account I think at the end of this year,” said Lewis.
Two companies with state contracts for this type of work showed up at the pre-bid proposal giving rough estimates of $500,000 to $600,000 for the update, but only one company, Shalleck Collaborative Inc., provided a subsequent bid for the design.
Milt Trieweiler from Central Valley Electronics has done the “patching” over the past 11 years spent in the Yosemite Room at City Hall, but according to Lewis, it’s time to stop fixing and prepare for construction “to move into the next century.”
Lewis also explained that the Parks, Arts, and Recreation Commission is now interested in holding broadcasted meetings there, but that schools, who have also been offered to use the space, do not want to use it.
“The City Council meetings, I mean they’re not an exciting thing for people to watch at home on TV, but people do it!” Lewis said.
Lewis said that she believes people are becoming more accustomed to viewing the meetings and that citizens of Turlock are now more engaged.
“They want to know what’s happening too,” said Lewis. “So this is a good way.”
Picciano explained that 37 different organizations initially downloaded the plans, but the fact that only two companies showed up to the pre-bid proposal and only one turned in a bid means it is a “focus-type project.”
Shalleck Collaborative Inc. is the same company who completed the audiovisual features at the Carnegie Center for the Arts down the street from City Hall at 250 N. Broadway Ave. Picciano explained that this means the City is familiar with the San Francisco company and knows they do quality work.
This first bid is only for design. The actual bid will be completed next month. Hiring Shalleck Collaborative Inc. for the design work would mean that the company would follow up with construction, managing the general contractor for the project.