TRAVERSE CITY — Elected officials at Northwestern Michigan College will meet Tuesday to further consider the issue of electronically recording board meetings.
“Based on our past discussions it does seem we are on track to make some changes, but whether that’s going to be visual or audio I don’t know,” said policy committee member Susan Sheldon. “There seems to be consensus that we will be making a change and making a more complete permanent record of our meetings,”
The policy committee plans to deliver a recommendation to the board after reviewing recording costs, what other colleges are doing statewide, and the motivation for recording.
The committee last discussed the question in October when members offered mostly positive comments, but expressed concerns about the cost and need for the recordings.
“My biggest reservation, is there a need?” Sheldon said. “Sometimes we do things because there’s pressure, just for the sake of making a change. I don’t. So I’m hoping they’re going to show us, yes, there’s a need. Then I’d feel comfortable it’s the right thing to do.”
But Sheldon added she would “love a permanent record.”
“But to what extent do you take that? Is the audio enough, the live TV? To what extent do you go to, what steps do you take?” she said. “But I am in favor of a permanent record. I don’t think we’re resisting. I was just waiting to hear if there’s a need. Who’s asking for it?”
NMC Board Trustee Bill Myers previously said a move to recorded meetings is the “logical next step.” In light of NMC’s resounding millage defeat in August, the public should know more about the college’s achievements and financial challenges, he said.
Cost estimates range widely. Vicki Cook, NMC’s vice president of finance and administration, presented a few options and estimated costs at October’s policy committee meeting. They vary from implementing TCAPS’ recording system at $35,000 annually; to live broadcasting at $47,000 to $55,000 annually; to having UpNorth Media do the job for $7,200 each year.
NMC has at its unique disposal an existing cable channel, a staff with video expertise, video equipment, and students who could be trained to tape the meetings, said Joe VanderMeulen of UpNorth Media, a nonprofit that records and cablecasts government meetings.
The committee will meet Tuesday at 9:30 a.m. in the president’s office, located in the Tanis Building. The meeting is open to the public.