Worcester County residents will soon be able to watch and listen to what takes place at County Commission meetings online.
In this day, it seems logical and obvious that citizens should be able to go on their computers and watch recorded meetings of their elected officials governing. However, for many years, the Worcester County Commissioners were not the least bit interested in doing it.
Whether that was for financial reasons, transparency not being a priority or the fact a former commissioners often napped during the meetings is unknown. The good news is that archaic opposition is in the past now or at least will be once the recording equipment is purchased and online changes are made to the county’s website.
Kudos goes to Commissioner Joe Mitrecic for keeping this issue on the forefront, despite being rejected during the last two budget prep sessions. Mitrecic, a former Ocean City Councilman, understands how resort property owners embraced being able to watch the government meetings on television as well as online. He made it a campaign issue two years ago, although he knew it would be an uphill battle with his colleagues. The chances are last week’s decision never would have happened without him keeping his thumb on this issue.
This should have been a simple matter, but recent budget restraints led to the improvements not being funded. The commissioners, and understandably so, didn’t feel comfortable spending $69,000, as one proposal called for, when it was raising taxes, keeping salaries level as was the case last year and cutting important departmental funding requests.
At last week’s meeting, the purchase of a revised three-camera proposal was unanimously approved for $24,509. It will accomplish what the county wants at one-third of the previous bids. It will allow for the meetings to be recorded with camera vantage points adjusted to the speaker at that time. The meeting videos will be stored for three months and the county could pay an additional annual fee to store them for longer.
Although it should have been done many years ago, this will go a long way toward enhancing transparency and knowledge of how Worcester County works at the government level. It’s a wise use of funding and the general public will be better off for it as will the elected officials.