Government • Goal is to let the public see, hear and interact in deliberations.
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Salt Lake County Council meetings may be coming to a computer or smartphone near you.
The council instructed its staff Tuesday to look into the logistics and projected costs of producing livestream broadcasts of all meetings the formal 4 p.m. session each Tuesday, the "Council of the Whole" work meetings that precede it, and any other session in which county business is discussed.
Councilman Richard Snelgrove said that livestreaming council proceedings would bring Salt Lake County's million-plus residents closer to their elected officials.
The council's 4 p.m. session currently allows residents three minutes to speak about whatever issues are on their minds. But because "not everyone can be here for their three minutes," Snelgrove said, procedures could be worked out that would allow people in their homes and businesses to see, hear and possibly interact with the council.
Snelgrove suggested residents wishing to address the council could contact the staff and make arrangements to be contacted during the next council meeting. An arrangement like that could spare council members, he added, from being subjected to "anonymous yahoos who want nothing more than to give us grief."
He predicted the cost would be in the hundreds, but not thousands, of dollars.
Deputy Mayor Nichole Dunn said the administration has discussed the possibility of livestreaming some meetings and would be eager to work with Snelgrove's administrative assistant, Bart Barker, on fleshing out the details.
Besides increasing access to the public, Dunn said livestreaming could improve the efficiency of county government particularly for department and program heads who often spend a lot of time at council meetings waiting for their items on the agenda.
If those county employees could track the meeting remotely, she added, they could use the time more productively.
Snelgrove said it may take some time to work out the kinks, and he acknowledged that council meetings "would be boring to the masses."
But whatever the council can do to increase citizen involvement "would be great," he added.
The Salt Lake County Council also wants to know how much it would cost to print up banners bearing the county's name or logo to serve as backdrops when council members go to community meet-and-greets.