After long discussing transparency issues, the Turlock Irrigation District Board of Directors has decided to move forward with video recording meetings.
The TID Board meets Tuesdays at 9 a.m., when many are at work, making them hard to attend. TID also has not recorded and archived meetings, making very inaccessible to many in the public.
In May of last year, TID talked transparency issues and considered either recording meetings for the public’s benefit or hosting meetings at a more convenient time to the public, in the evening.
With the Board’s decision on Tuesday, meetings will be video recorded and uploaded to the TID website where the public can watch at a later time.
The initial proposal will not include live streaming of meetings, which would have cost extra. This, however, would not prevent TID from live steaming at a later date.
Currently the Turlock City Council and Modesto Irrigation District both offer live streaming and archived video recordings of meetings.
The project, which will begin construction around September or October of this year, will come with a $151,000 price tag, said TID spokesperson Calvin Curtin. The project will be paid for from bond capital.
When considering the possibility of video recording meetings, TID looked at several options, including hiring a private firm to coming and film weekly.
After calling local video companies from Turlock and Modesto, TID determined it would be too costly to have an outside company come in. Two companies had little interest in the project, while two others quoted $400 and $500 per day, respectively. At that price, companies would only provide a camera and operator.
“Long term, the cost of the services is just not feasible because we’re not getting a full package,” said Jason Hicks, Transportation and Facilities Department Manager for TID. “We’re not getting the streaming and everything else, just a camera and an operator."
TID will instead use the roof-mounted cameras that have already been purchased.
In addition to the video recording, there will be some slight changes to the TID Board Room. The projection screen will now be placed behind the Board of Directors, rather than to their left, as it helps with those watching the video; those watching the recording will also be able to see slideshows via a picture-in-picture feature.
Members of the public who wish to speak at the meetings will also have a designated mic, rather than the podium that is off to the side. Final location has not been determined, but Director Rob Santos said it the move may help with nerves.
“There is some intimidation for the public to walk all the way up to the podium,” said Santos.