Perryville mayor says discontinuing live streams encourages public comment
Published 8:00 am Thursday, March 2, 2023
The Perryville City Council voted to stop live streaming their meetings during the Feb. 2 meeting.
The town started live streaming council meetings on their Facebook page, City of Perryville Kentucky, back in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic when public gatherings were prohibited by the state.
They decided to continue after the pandemic because more people were able to view the meetings online.
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Hundreds of citizens view the meetings online each month, and some leave comments on the videos about the council’s decisions. But the council does not necessarily see Facebook comments, as Miller said he does not have a Facebook account and does not intend on getting one. He said having meetings only in person allows people to actually have their voices heard.
“It encourages the citizens to come to the meetings and voice their opinions during open forum instead of posting on Facebook their dislikes and likes about the business of the city,” Miller said.
The city offers open forum, or public comment time, during council meetings when citizens can speak about their concerns. Miller said he expects more people to come in person to the meetings.
“We had great turnouts prior to the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said. “So I do not see why those who care about the city would not attend future meetings.”
One comment on the City of Perryville Facebook page said, “Elderly, disabled people and those with small children or that are working during these meetings have a right to see them as well as taxpayers.”
Posting videos of meetings for people to watch when they can allowed more people to see them, especially those who are busy during regular meeting times, and those who have difficulty leaving the house. Perryville’s City Hall also would not fit the hundreds of people who view meetings online.
“City Hall is equipped with handicap accessible ramps with ample seating for everyone,” Miller said. “We also welcome families with small children to come out and see how our government works.”
He continued, “I agree that everyone should have access to the meetings and we will look into other avenues of providing access. But not everyone has a Facebook account, so how do we accommodate those individuals? We do comply with the Open Records Request Act on providing copies of the minutes of meetings and all public records. We are not trying to hide anything from the public.”
Also in 2020, the city purchased video and microphone equipment for higher-quality live streams. Miller said they will be looking to see how they repurpose that equipment.
The next council meeting is tonight, March 2, at 7 p.m.
City Hall is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Fridays.