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City Council flips a switch for camera equipment purchase

POULSBO — Poulsbo City Council meetings may begin with a rap of a gavel today.

But it is conceivable that down the road, they will begin with “lights, camera, action.”

At its April 6 meeting, the Poulsbo City Council unanimously approved a $37,986 contract with SPL Integrated Solutions of Redmond for a video production system for City Hall.

The contract will be paid out of a $32,000 loan from Comcast and the remainder from LID excess funds since it is a one-time purchase.

In September 2003, council approved a 10-year cable TV franchise agreement with Comcast to replace the city’s expiring contract. Part of the partnership involved the loan for mounted video equipment to allow the city a greater ability to broadcast public meetings on Bremerton/Kitsap Access Television.

The Poulsbo City Council’s Wednesday meetings are currently videotaped by two BKAT volunteers and one paid employee using rented equipment from BKAT.

The tapes are rebroadcast on Channel 12 three times per week.

The new equipment will be permanently mounted in council chambers and will only require one paid staff person to operate it. Account Tech Linda Shaw told the Finance/Administration Committee Wednesday night that it will also allow council meetings to be shown live. Currently, the earliest the meetings run is about 24 hours after the actual event.

The $32,000 loan from Comcast will be paid back by all cable subscribers in Poulsbo by a 65 cent Public Education in Government (PEG) fee on each month’s bill until the amount is repaid. Bouffiou said it is estimated that the $32,000 would be refunded in about two years. After the loan is repaid, the city council has the ability to set the PEG fee anywhere from no charge to $1.

While council members were generally supportive of the purchase in order to better serve the public, there were some questions about the permanence of the system. For several years, the City of Poulsbo has been exploring building a new city hall that would put all or most of the city’s outbuildings into one facility. Though no formal plans are yet in hand, council members asked staff to look into the issue of possibly needing to move the equipment and whether that would be possible.

“If we install now and we’re in a different chamber in 24 months, is it cost effective?” Councilman Ed Stern questioned.

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