The antiquated audio/video system used to broadcast meetings live from the conference room at Ridgefield Town Hall is going to need to be replaced to the tune of about $45,000.
During the Board of Selectmen meeting on May 23 First Selectman Rudy Marconi said the town received an initial bid for $120,000 to replace the system, "which we felt was a little high," then received a second bid for $54,000, "which we still felt was kind of high." Finally the town received a third bid of $45,600, from an outside contractor, however Marconi said he thought the labor portion of that estimate could be reduced further.
"It's not going to be cheap to do this," Marconi said. "To make it right, we need to pull the wires, we need all new cameras and all new sound equipment, with a cabinet that you can lock up and no one can get into."
Selectwoman Di Masters asked whether it would be less expensive if the meetings were not broadcast live.
"Wouldn't it be less expensive just to tape them and run a tape delay?" she asked.
"You would still need all the equipment — all the cameras and all the microphones," Marconi said.
"How many people are sitting at home watching us?" Masters asked.
"A lot of people," Marconi said.
Marconi said in addition to broadcasting the meetings live on public access on Comcast's cable network the town is considering broadcasting them via live video streaming on the Internet.
"That way what we would be doing is using the video as the official record of our meetings," Marconi said adding that all the meetings would be archived. "A lot of communities have done that — and it is certainly the way to go for the future. But there's an annual fee (for the video hosting)."
Selectman Andrew Bodner asked if the board would still have to take and approve minutes, since the videos would serve as the official meeting record.
"I don't know I would have to check with FOI on that," Marconi said. "I would think we would have to continue to take minutes, because not every body has a computer, or access to one."
Marconi said funding for the project would come from the town's contingency fund. The board was scheduled to take the matter up again during its meeting on June 6.