Verbatim minutes costly and redundant with TV coverage

By Dawn De Busk
Staff Writer

CASCO – With the cameras of Lake Region Television now recording Casco’s municipal meetings, those old verbatim minutes could be flung out the window.

It might seem like a classic example of ‘out with the old and in with the new,’ but that is not the case.

Only two weeks ago, the Casco Board of Selectmen voted to establish verbatim minutes as the means of documenting everything that is said during meetings. At the time, one of the primary reasons was to satisfy requests from residents who winter elsewhere and want to keep up on town happenings.

On Tuesday, Chairman Barbara York reported the result of the first word-for-word minutes: The document was 106 pages long, and had cost the town $300.

Casco Town Manager Dave Morton said with the new media-sharing arrangement, an exact transcript is not just expensive but also redundant.

“As an alternative to offering verbatim minutes, we were looking forward to having audio available on the website. The actual recording may be able to be up and on the website before the minutes are finished and approved,” Morton said.

“Now, someone can click, kick back, and watch Casco meeting on their computer while enjoying their time in Florida,” he said.

Morton did not know the exact expense of downloading the community TV recordings to the town’s website, but he said he would update selectmen on that cost. He also wanted to double-check how many months’ worth of meetings the website could handle. I don’t know how many months worth of meetings we’ll be able to hold on the computer.

In addition, the transferring of video to the town’s website did not go as planned this week, he said.

“For now, we are going to post 106 pages on the web – even though that’s not what was officially adopted,” Morton said, asking the board for permission to post it as such.

Selectman Ray Grant, who had favored verbatim minutes, said he’d like the previous vote to stick – and for those minutes to be available via the Internet. He said all-inclusive minutes should continue to be provided until the video recordings are accessible from the town’s webpage.

Resident Jenn Murray asked how the town was able to put 106 pages on the web, but hasn’t finished shorter summarized minutes from earlier meetings yet.

“We outsourced it to a professional transcriber,” Morton said.

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