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Hernando County, FL : Commission Meetings Coming To Web

August 20, 2008
by Tony Marrero
The Tampa Tribune

BROOKSVILLE - There will soon be a new way to tune into local government.

County commission meetings will be streamed live on the Web now that the commission has agreed to share the cost of new software, hardware and training to make it happen.

The commission on Tuesday approved a budget amendment of $29,800 to allow Hernando County Government Broadcasting, or HCBG, to pay for the Web streaming component of a package from IQM2 of New York.

The Clerk of Court's Office will pay for the rest of the $89,300 for initial cost of the technology that will further streamline the process of preparing agendas and minutes, saving paper and staff time, Community Relations Coordinator Brenda Frazier told the commission.

The video of the meetings will be archived on the county Web site with the corresponding agendas and minutes, giving residents a searchable, virtual video vault of government at work.

The $12,000 annual maintenance cost will be paid through the Community Relations Department.

Commissioners agreed the system would provide better access for residents who don't have access to Hernando County Government Broadcasting Channel 622, such as satellite owners and those who don't have the digital tier of BrightHouse Networks. The three county government channels moved to the digital tier when BrightHouse realigned its channels last December.

Commissioner David Russell acknowledged the point of two residents who questioned whether such a capital purchase should be a priority in a tight budget year when departments are cutting staff.

He cited the benefits of increased efficiency and participation in government.

"The more people who are engaged, the more people will be able to contribute to what we're doing here, and that's always a good thing," Russell said.

Frazier said the goal is to eventually post most or even all of county programming on the Web. The system is expected to be up and running within 90 days, but the Web streaming will likely happen sooner, she said.

Pay plan compensates staffers stepping in to higher paid positions

The commission unanimously approved a plan to compensate county workers filling in vacant positions above their pay grade.

It's happening more often as the county holds off on hiring for the positions, Deputy County Administrator Larry Jennings said.

Under the new policy, county workers would receive a 5 percent increase in pay.

Jennings called it a "fairer, more effective way to compensate" workers taking on added responsibility.

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