by Lisa Tome
In the six weeks since he's been mayor, Travis Marion has authorized nearly $8,000 of upgrades to town hall.
The mayor said some of the improvements were long overdue.
Town hall was power washed at a cost of $1,650. That work included scrubbing of a door canopy and window sills where mold had formed. New carpet was installed in the first floor office and third floor meeting room. That cost $3,640. Marion said the carpet needed to be replaced because of both dry rot and mold. The mold was caused due to leaks during Hurricane Sandy. "It was a tripping hazard in at least one place," said Marion.
The lobby and meeting room were painted at a cost of $2,515. The mayor said a contractor's grade of paint was used and the work was done because there were nicks and scuffs on the wall. New artwork and historic photos were also installed on the walls at town hall. A new clock was purchased for the meeting room. Marion said the total for that was $40. The mayor said he does not feel these upgrades were frivolous. "A lot of these things should have been done long ago," said Marion.
Commissioner George Walker confirmed the amount of the expenditures. He said he hadn't been concerned about the exterior appearance of town hall but said he has no problem with the fact that the building was power washed. He said the other expenditures are also justified. "The carpet had been there 12 years. It was necessary to make the place look a little better," said Walker.
Both Walker and Marion said the town is looking into a cost cutting measure that will bring meeting videotaping "in house." Currently, the town contracts with Cassidy Video to have the town board meetings taped twice a month.
In June 2013, town officials signed a contract that has them paying $450 per meeting, a projected $12,600 per year for meeting videotaping.
The deal, with Cassidy Video, Marion said that the base price for recording is $450 per meeting or about $12,600 per year, depending on meeting cancellations.
For that cost, the town receives the use of a professional videographer, professional grade camcorder, tripod, monitors, mixer, and wireless microphones.
For meetings which exceed the two hour time frame, there will be a $25 per hour charge for each 30 minutes. To post the meeting to the designated town youtube.com account, the cost is $75 for the first two hours.
The town board at the time agreed to a four-year contract with Cassidy Video. There was an option to cancel after one year. Although the company still tapes the meetings, they are no longer under contract. "The Town should buy their own equipment and do it ourselves. We will save money in the long run," said Walker. "He (rep from Cassidy Video) has been advised that we will purchase our own equipment and do it ourselves," said Walker.
He said it is critical that the town continue to tape the meetings. He said it provides transparency in government and said citizens can hold town board members accountable.
Mayor Marion also said the town will do its own taping as soon as the equipment is acquired. "The initial cost (for equipment) will be high," said the mayor.
The number of views on youtube.com has not increased with the professional video company. Before the recording company was hired, in April 2013, a town meeting video was viewed about 80 times. With professional videotaping, in January and February 2014, Typically, 50 people or fewer view the meetings.