Industrial development agencies will be required to live stream and post videos of all open meetings and public hearings starting January 2020.
The videos must be posted online within five business days of the meeting or hearing and remain available for at least five years, according to a media release from Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office.
“Industrial development agencies are tasked with revitalizing communities and fostering economic growth at the local level, but most New Yorkers don’t have time to attend meetings and participate in the process,” Cuomo said in the release. “This new measure will help foster civic engagement and get more residents involved in the meetings and hearings that will ultimately have a huge impact on the future of their communities.”
Otsego Now CEO Jody Zakrevsky said Otsego Now plans on fully complying with the new requirements. Otsego Now is an umbrella company that includes the county’s IDA. As an IDA, the agency has state approval to assist manufacturing and distribution companies and provide tax incentives.
Otsego Now already has the ability to record meetings or have them played live, he said, but the video equipment isn’t great and the sound system needs to be improved. Zakrevsky said he is researching the type of equipment that would be needed to upgrade those systems. The internet speed capacity has been upgraded to handle live-streaming, he said.
“It’ll cost us a little bit more in equipment but it certainly will allow people who are interested to view our meetings on a more timely basis than reading the minutes,” Zakrevsky said.
He said the maximum number of people he’s seen show up to a meeting was probably eight. The specific item being discussed at that meeting was a potential natural gas decompression station for the city.
Glenn Nealis, director of Delaware County Economic Development, which works in conjunction with the county’s IDA, said in general he has no problems with the new regulation, but does have some concerns. Not all information discussed at the meetings is public, so in addition to calling an executive session when non-public matters are being discussed as the board does now, the stream would have to be turned off, he said. Reviewing personal and business tax returns are some of the things that may make live-streaming difficult, he said.
“It’s just going to coerce board members to be much more careful about what they say, so at any given time they’re not violating someone’s personal privacy,” he said. “There’s a lot of potentially negative consequences that can be addressed through management of when and how that content is discussed.”
Shweta Karikehalli, staff writer, can be reached at email@example.com or 607-441-7221. Follow her @DS_ShwetaK on Twitter.