Library Board Considers Televising Its Meetings

4-27-16 Meeting - 1

Members of the Library Board of Trustees listen as trustee Nicholas Ciampa, center, right, talks about costs involved with televising board meetings.

At the prompting of Mayor Phillip Kramer, the Library Board of Trustees is researching the cost of recording and televising its monthly meetings.

The trustees meet in the library’s Historical Records room.

Kramer, who has long been a proponent of public bodies televising their meetings, said the trustees could meet in the Township Council chamber, which is already set up for the live recording and broadcast of meetings.

But that idea didn’t go over well with some of the trustees.

Board president Nabil Choueiri said moving the meetings across the municipal parking lot to the municipal building could be inconvenient.

“In case we need something, it’s here,” he said. “This is our place.”

Library director January Adams agreed with Choueiri, saying there have been times when she’s had to copy or fax documents during meetings.

Trustee Nicholas Ciampa – Kramer’s representative on the board – said moving meetings to the council chamber would be the “most economical way to do it.”

He said the cost he was quoted was $300 a meeting, but added that that was for Township Council meetings, which last longer than trustee board meetings.

“If we wanted to stay here, it would require the expense of camera equipment,” he said.

Trustee Iris Kislin questioned the cost in general, saying the money could be better spent on other board initiatives, such as installing a curbside dropbox for library materials.

“My feeling is that we need to save as much money as we can save,” she said. She said many library patrons “are aging,” and that it “behooves us” to install the curbside dropbox.

“We should put that (money) toward something we really need,” she said. “To spend the money and not get anything back is really to me not a wise decision.”

Kramer said that he believed that any public body that spends public money should have their meetings televised.

“I think this body should televise, the Sewerage Authority should televise,” he said. “Any body subject to the Open Public Meetings Act should televise.”

Kislin asked Kramer if the township would pay the cost of the board televising their meetings.

“Certainly it could,” he said, “but I would not be in favor of that. We can talk to them (the township’s video contractor) about maybe lowering their rate.”

“Yes, it costs money,” Kramer said. “Democracy costs money. Open government costs money.”

The mayor told the trustees that it is his goal, before his term is up, to have library board meetings televised, “whatever I have to do to achieve it.”

“If that sounds arrogant, then so be it,” he said.

The trustees agreed to look further into the costs.

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