Colonie Town Board member Jennifer Whalen and Clerk Julie Gansle watch a video of the March 22 Town Board meeting. (Jim Franco/Spotlight News)
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COLONIE – Residents, and those interested, can now watch the Town Board at work from the comfort of their homes.
“Certainly you can read the transcripts, but it’s good to see what your Town Board is doing and what the public comment section looks like,” said Town Board member Jennifer Whalen, who pushed for the live streaming of meetings. “It give people more of a pulse of what is going on in government.”
Supervisor Paula Mahan said there were some practice sessions to work out the quirks prior to the town going live for the first time on Thursday, March 22, but “now it looks good and we hope people will take a look.”
The videos will be archived on the town website as well, and a nifty part of that is the public can click on an agenda item and it will skip to that particular section of the meeting, said Town Clerk Julie Gansle. Thanks to Deputy Clerk David Caruso time stamping the individual items as the board addresses them, residents will not have to watch an entire meeting to just see action taken on the one item of interest.
Also, Gansle said, the way the agendas and the actions taken by the board are presented will be more user friendly. Once published, which will in most cases be the next day, residents can get information on who voted for what easier and more efficiently, and there is easier access to the agenda packet, which includes more in depth background information on the items.
Right now, the meetings are live streamed on the town’s website – and archives can be found there too. But, Whalen said, eventually they will be broadcast live on the town’s public access television station.
Mahan readily admits it is a long time coming for a town the size of Colonie, but said there was other work that took precedent such as balancing the budget and cosmetic and infrastructure work on the Town Board chambers.
All told, the town spent about $20,000 for the initial setup and will spend $7,500 a year to keep everything current. There are not any immediate plans to broadcast committee meetings or other board meetings.