VALPARAISO | A proposal has been on the table for the past year to install cameras in the main meeting room at the county administration center.
The proposed equipment would allow the county to capture video of meetings for in-house use and to broadcast online, according to Porter County Auditor Bob Wichlinski.
"In terms of transparency, this is the ultimate tool," he said.
The $10,000 for the software and $5,000 for cameras is part of the second phase of the wider total quality management program pitched by the offices of county auditor, treasurer, assessor, recorder, clerk and Portage Township assessor and funded by the County Council.
The second phase targets progress in electronic government operations and is being paid for out of the auditor's nonreverting fund, which is generated from the crackdown on homestead deduction violations.
All that stands in the way of the installation of the cameras is approval by the Porter County commissioners, Wichlinski said.
Commissioner Nancy Adams, R-Center, said she has no problem with the proposal.
"I think our meetings are run very professionally," she said.
Broadcasting the meetings also can serve as a way of educating the public on the functioning of county government, Adams said.
Wichlinski said the video recordings also would be valuable to his office in following through on decisions made during meetings, such as the County Council's budget hearings.
County Councilwoman Laura Blaney, D-at large, who was elected last week to take over Jan. 1 as South District county commissioner, said she supports the proposed cameras as long as the effort is not cost-prohibitive.
"People should have faster access to that stuff if they want it," she said.
Sharon Lippens, director of the county's information technologies department, said there no obstacles to the project from her office's perspective.
The county is greatly increasing its online bandwidth at the start of next year and will be introducing a new website by spring that is capable of handling the broadcast either live or delayed.
Lippens said the idea of broadcasting a video of county meetings has been talked about for many years but has been sidelined by resistance from officials and/or financial considerations.