Commissioners discuss audio complaints

By Kelsey Kimbler -

EATON — Recent posts online have urged the Preble County Board of Commissioners to revisit their audio system to make the meeting recordings clearer and more accessible to the public. The discussion was spurred by the audio equipment malfunctioning on Dec. 18, which caused there to be no CD recording of the meeting.

The conversation was moved to commission chambers on Monday, Dec. 23, when Commissioner Rodney Creech brought it up to his fellow commissioners during their regular meeting.

He explained the situations — where he and Commissioner Denise Robertson were tagged in a discussion on Facebook — and then stated he had listened to audio from their meetings and agreed the audio could be better quality.

“Some people you can hear, some people you can’t, as far as clarity,” he said. “We either need to improve the system we have or look at outside systems. I met with the Prosecutor’s Office this morning about what we can and can’t do.

“I know in the past people have wanted a video, which makes a lot of sense, but the new law in place means you have to have captioning. When we were at the CCAO Winter Conference two or three years ago we checked into that and it was around $800 per week, which is just not feasible.”

Commission Clerk Kim Keller asked if Creech was referring to the office recording the meeting itself.

“A large portion with that is, if we video it and you make it official minutes, we have to save those,” she said.

Robertson and Creech replied, you don’t have to make the video official minutes.

“You can put it in YouTube and it’s on YouTube storage,” Creech said.

Robertson suggested looking into other counties — like Hamilton County — who videotape their meetings. She added, YouTube provides closed captioning for its videos, so the board would not have to pay for that service.

“If its not official then, why are we required to do things?” Keller asked.

“It would be unofficial and a service YouTube includes already,” Robertson said.

Creech added, the board chose not to do anything about the audio — specifically including videotaping meetings — in the past, because the price they were quoted was high.

“Transparency has never been an issue in this office. Never has — but people are starting to bring it up. Come in and get our audio any time you want — our system was down last week,” Creech said.

“I really do think, people who work and can’t make it to our daily meetings — we talked about an evening meeting, and nobody liked that idea. If I come home from work and want to find out what happened here, you can watch a video anytime. I think it is a good idea and we should look into it,” Robertson said.

Creech responded, Assistant Prosecutor Michele Thomas is looking into feasibility and accuracy.

“This would not be our official minutes. If we did something like this and have it on the YouTube channel, it would not be up to us to make sure the caption [is accurate],” Robertson said. “I think we should look into it and see what we can do. I don’t have a problem with video, I don’t have a problem with putting it online. It’s a transparency thing and I would prefer it to be more transparent.”

“I don’t have an issue with that, it’s just the cost,” Creech replied.

Robertson agreed “it has to be cost effective.”

“It has to be legal and it has to be something that is useful for people,” she said.

By Kelsey Kimbler

Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH

Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH