Port Orchard May Broadcast Council Meetings on its Web Site

The City of Port Orchard is considering severing its ties with BKAT, the public access television station that broadcasts city council meetings. Mayor Lary Coppola is floating a proposal to broadcast meetings on the city’s Web site instead.

The move would save the city nearly $8,000 per year and make watching the meetings easier for city residents, a large number of whom have Internet access, said Coppola at a work study meeting with the council Wednesday.

Eliminating BKAT broadcasts had in late November been considered among of a number of cost saving measures the council believed it would have to effect as a result of maintaining the city’s budget at 2009 levels. Foregoing an allowed one percent property tax increase meant the city was short $16,000 in revenue. But at the work study meeting, council members learned that additional franchise utility tax revenue from 2009 annexations had closed the gap.

Coppola told the council he still believed dropping BKAT was a good idea. The city already has equipment to record meetings, and staff members would be able to run the equipment while performing their regular meeting duties, said City Clerk Patricia Kirkpatrick.

By posting meetings on the Web site, Coppola said, the city would make them available to residents 24/7 instead of during broadcast times, one of which is 1 a.m.

Coppola said he learned from Wave Broadband that the city has a greater number of Internet subscribers with that company that television subscribers. Other companies — Qwest, AT&T and Telebyte — also provide Internet access to city residents, he said, suggesting the city as a whole is well connected to the Internet.

Some council members were supportive the idea.
“I think it’s much more convenient,” said Councilman Jerry Childs.
But Councilman Jim Colebank said he would vote against any such proposal that comes before the council out of concern for residents who may have no access other than television.

Councilman Fred Chang, who was a strong proponent of BKAT broadcasts when they were instituted in 2006, said he, too, was concerned about the audience used to watching the meetings on cable television. Chang, however, sees value in posting meetings on the Web site.

“In an ideal world, I would like to have it on both,” Chang said.
Councilman Rob Putaansuu favored dropping BKAT but said the council should show city residents something tangible for the trade-off. After considerable discussion, the council reached a consensus that, if BKAT broadcasts are dropped, money saved would apply to the cost of flower baskets that beautify city streets in summer.

No formal votes are taken at work study meetings. Discussion of the BKAT issue is not on the council’s upcoming agenda, nor is dropping BKAT part of the city’s proposed 2010 budget.
In an e-mail sent to the Kitsap Sun, former Port Orchard Mayor

Kim Abel said that an increase in the city’s cable franchise fee in 2005 was tied to the televising of council meetings on BKAT. She requested the council to lower the franchise fee if it does away with BKAT.

Coppola, replying to Abel in an e-mail copied to the Kitsap Sun, said he would bring the franchise fee issue to the attention of the council.

Budget Hearing: The Port Orchard City Council will hold a public hearing on its 2010 budget at 7 p.m. Monday at City Hall, 216 Prospect St., Port Orchard. The council will vote on the budget at its meeting 7 p.m. Tuesday.

6 thoughts on “Port Orchard May Broadcast Council Meetings on its Web Site

  1. I don’t recall saying I thought dropping BKAT was a “good idea,” and to be clear on this, if it was finanially feasible to provide both BKAT and Internet broadcasts to the public, that would be my first choice.

    As the City’s business manager, I was tasked with presenting all available options to the Council as a way of filling the budget gap left when Councilmen Chang and Olin voted against the proposed budget. When City Treasurer Allan Martin found the franchise tax money could fill that gap, we still didn’t know if the Council would agree to that or want to use that money for something else, so we wanted to have another option handy if we needed it.

    Also, in light of the number of TV subscribers verses Internet subscribers, it might help clarify this issue by noting that the City has a high penetration of satellite subscribers as well – folks who get both Internet and TV – although no BKAT – from those providers.

    By putting our meetings online, more people – not less – will not only have access to them, they will have that access at their convenience, instead of only three times between meetings, with one of those times being 1 a.m. We are also exploring the possibility of streaming the meetings live, as they happen, as well as adding our study sessions to be broadcast online as well, which will significantly increase the amount of government transparency to a level never achieved previously.

    LFC

  2. Hi Lary and please do if you could, have the ability for the city of Port Orchard to see the study sessions broadcast online if you can. I attended one and it was actually more informative than say, a regular city council meeting. In fact, I actually agreed with you on a point you were trying to make in a rather loud voice. People shouldn’t have to just read about you or any of the other city council members, they should have access to see just what exactly is going on during those public meetings. I have found that you just can’t get a good angle on Port Orchard city council unless you’re actually watching it happen live in front of your eyes.

  3. Hi Chris,
    I keep checking for a new blog from you. Hope you are okay and it is just this time of year keeping you from blogging

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