Traverse City Record-Eagle

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September 8, 2013

NMC on the small screen?

TRAVERSE CITY — Elected officials at Northwestern Michigan College will discuss taping their board meetings, a potential about-face for leaders of a multi-million dollar public institution who’ve shunned such technology and rely on notes and memories to record their business.

NMC is in the minority among major public agencies in Grand Traverse County when it comes to recording and televising board meetings. Grand Traverse County, Traverse City Area Public Schools, Traverse City government, and several local townships record and televise meetings conducted by their various boards and commissions.

NMC also doesn’t use electronic audio recording to log action taken by its Board of Trustees.

That may change.

NMC board member Cheryl Gore Follette said she asked to put the question of recording meetings on the board’s Monday study session agenda. That meeting is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. at the Oleson Center on NMC’s main campus.

“For my purpose, having the meeting recorded would be helpful for everyone,” Gore Follette said. “.. . (T)here may have been occasions when I’ve said something, and I don’t remember exactly what it was. It would be helpful for me to hear what I said.”

No electronic record

NMC’s aversion to electronic recording at its board meetings came to light in July in a Record-Eagle story about a pending August special election for a .4-mill request.

NMC board members in May decided to hold the vote in August, despite an estimated $68,000 in extra costs for a special election. One reason stated by board members was to ensure the higher tax rate, if approved, could be placed on December property tax bills. NMC President Tim Nelson learned before that decision that a free November vote would have had the same effect.

Nelson didn’t attend a May study session at which he thought the matter had been discussed. Other school officials said they didn’t recall that the November election possibility was discussed at that meeting. There was no audio or videotape to check and nothing was indicated in board meeting minutes.

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