Live streaming of East Providence City Council meetings returns this week

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EAST PROVIDENCE — After a year’s absence, live streaming of East Providence City Council meetings returns with the April 16 gathering at City Hall, City Clerk Kim Casci announced last week.

Live streaming became a hot-button issue throughout the tenure of the East Providence Budget Commission, which struck it from its fiscal plan early in its governance of the city.

However, as the Commission wound down its oversight in the last few months, bringing back live streaming gained momentum and support, specifically from Ward 1 Councilman and Commission member James Briden. Mr. Briden, the Council president and mayor, backed its return once he was elected to the Council in November of last year.

At the Commission’s Feb. 28, 2013 meeting, what proved its penultimate forum, the overseers were finally convinced to support resurrecting live streaming, though it did so while pointing out it remained an unbudgeted item.

Spurred largely by Mr. Briden and Peter Graczykowski, the City Manager and also an oversight member, the entire Commission approved its return, but member Michael O’Keefe questioned whether the funds were available as presented under a plan by Ms. Casci to set aside a portion of recording fees. Mr. O’Keefe, referring to notes of a meeting with Ms. Casci last year, said all revenue from the Clerk’s office was already accounted for in the Commission’s five-year plan and that bringing back streaming had to be considered a new expense.

Mr. Graczykowski also noted the efforts of Ward 3 City Councilman Thomas Rose throughout the process. Mr. Graczykowski said Mr. Rose “was instrumental in the successful advocacy for reinstating the streaming and archiving of City Council and School Committee meetings. I recall he spoke on that subject several times and looked for alternate funding solutions.”

Previously, the Council heard from Ms. Casci and City Solicitor Timothy Chapman, who both advised members the funds could be used according to state law from the monies the city receives in recording fees for documents. The law requires municipalities set aside 10 percent of recording fees it receives annually towards preservation and technological upgrades. Mr. O’Keefe, the former budget director for the State House of Representatives, disputed that claim, but allowed for the vote bringing back live streaming to take place.

It passed and will begin again on Tuesday.

The projected costs of bringing back live streaming have been pegged at $7,000 for the first year then $6,000 each year after under a contract with a service provider. Mr. Graczykowski said the city, on average, receives some $3,300 per month and about $39,000 per year in recording fees.

Live streaming for Tuesday’s Council meeting, as well as the April 16 agenda, can be accessed by clicking here…

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