Commissioners to livestream their meetings

The Lycoming County commissioners agreed in a 2-1 vote Thursday to livestream their meetings.

Commissioners Rick Mirabito and Jack McKernan voted for the motion, while Commissioner Tony Mussare, who said the expense wasn’t budgeted, voted “no.”

It will cost around $2,000 for the technology and equipment to livestream, county information technology officials said in other meetings.

Though no specific date was provided for, “As soon as convenient for the IT department,” was in the motion’s language.

If the public is uninterested in the form of low viewership, there won’t be anymore money spent on the project, said McKernan. Alternatively, more money will be invested if the public becomes more interested or aware.

The commissioners have confidence in the IT department to troubleshoot any issues, he added.

“If people start to watch it, and we get complaints that they can’t hear us they or can’t see what’s going on, I think our IT department will know what we’re trying to accomplish,” he said.

Though budget season is coming up and fiscal responsibility should be valued, a small amount of money is worth it to explore options of increasing public involvement, said McKernan. The funds, for which, could be found in either the IT department’s budget or in the commissioner’s initiative line item.

Mussare said he disagreed that the money for such expenditures was budgeted for, however.

“It needs to be in the budget so that when we vote on the budget in December, it’s there,” he said. The public should be able to deliver input on whether they want money spent during that time.

“We need to be frugal with our money now. That’s our message,” said Mussare.

Additionally, it’s easy for the livestreaming to be misused by people looking to abruptly prove their point, said Mussare.

“I believe that it will be used for agendas so, whoever wants to make a point across, will use it for that purpose,” he said.

Mirabito said the money within the commissioner’s initiative is for times like these, though this wasn’t as important as fulfilling what he sees as the government’s duty.

“I think the most compelling reason to do it is for transparency. In a democracy that is key,” he said. “We can provide information to try to educate people, if people don’t want to educate themselves on issues, that’s their business. At the end of the day, people get the government that they are willing to accept.”

In other business, the commissioners voted to hire the following: Howard Gold as a full-time replacement assistant public defender for $53,022.72 annually; Lee A. Fry as full-time replacement assistant district attorney for $53,022.72 annually; Christine R. Gartleman as a part-time replacement clerk for $10.94 an hour; Ronald K. Proust Jr. as a full-time replacement director of Veterans Affairs for $46,042.10 annually; Stacy A. Bower as part-time law librarian for $20.08 per hour; Charles S. Young as a part-time replacement Pre-Release Center driver for $12.96 an hour; Valorie L. Singleton as a full-time replacement female resident supervisor for $15.22 an hour.

All commissioners were present.

The next meeting is scheduled for 10 a.m. Tuesday in the briefing room at the Executive Plaza, 330 Pine St.