County adding more documents online, exploring options for livestreaming

Cascade County Commissioners are looking into options for posting more documents, such as their agenda reports, and live streaming their meetings.

Some improvements have already been made as the agendas, applications and staff reports have been posted for the county planning board and the Zoning Board of Adjustment.

During a commissioner meeting earlier this month, resident Richard Liebert asked commissioners to post documents related to their meetings ahead of time so that the people who wanted to attend would be “able to ask intelligent questions.”

The meeting agendas are posted ahead of time, usually the day before, and the audio of meetings is posted within a few hours of commission meetings.

The county has posted the agenda packet for the March 27 meeting.

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Liebert also asked for lives steaming and said it would improve the public’s trust.

“We have to have the information,” Liebert said.

He said that you can view live streams of funerals from local funeral homes, but not the county commission.

“This is madness,” he said.

During the meeting, Commissioner Jane Weber said the county had been looking into options and had received a quote on the cost of live streaming.

“I’m hoping to see that happen very soon,” Weber said during the meeting.

The county has posted all of the applications for the remaining vacancy on the ZBOA.

Weber asked the commission’s administrative staff to look into options for posting documents for their meetings and Commissioner Joe Briggs said they could be posted when commissioners receive the packets.

“I don’t have any problem with that at all,” Briggs said.

Commissioner Jim Larson said it was probably a good idea.

After the commission meeting, Briggs told The Electric that the estimate for adding livestreaming capabilities for commission meetings was an upfront $60,000 installation cost and $600 per month.

The City of Great Falls livestreams commission meetings and work sessions, as well as planning board meetings since that board also meets in the Commission Chambers.

The livestreaming was only available in the Commission Chambers until 2015 when the city added the equipment to the Gibson Room to stream work sessions. That new equipment and installation was $7,793.

The city previously used AVCaptureAll for audio/video streaming for $299 per month, according to the city clerk. The city now uses Novus Solutions for agenda management. The agenda software was $7,950, and their livestreaming fee is $4,000 per year, according to the city clerk.

The city first upgraded their website in 2011 to a system that allowed city departments to control and maintain their own webpages.

At that time, the city contracted with aHa Consulting Inc. for a new website and the project was close to $40,000.

In 2016, the city redesigned the website in the hopes of making it more user-friendly with a $9,500 fee to aHa Consulting and the annual hosting fee is $4,200, according to the city clerk’s office.