The Chaffee County Board of Commissioners has signed a contract with a company called CivicPlus for digital meeting services. The move will finally bring county government into the 21st century, offering a complete meeting management tool to record and file agendas and meetings and improve government transparency. The first year investment is around $23,000 including training. Successive years will be around $15,000.
“Our new system is called CivicClerk. It’s a minutes and agenda management system which includes live-casting,” said Chaffee County Clerk and Recorder Lori Mitchell the same day the contract was signed. Mitchell did all the research to identify the right vendor for the county’s needs. “ It will be great when we finally go live. The encoder is designed to allow the meetings to be livecast and also be recorded at a high resolution that will be archived and available for citizens to download.”
Chaffee County residents have repeatedly requested that county do a better job of recording and broadcasting commissioner and appointed board meetings. At present, meetings are not recorded, and the only way to get a copy of a meeting is to request a DVD.
“Transparency, either televised or via tape delay, is something we want to see,” said Ken Matthews at a January commissioner’s meeting. “I’m retired and I can come to these and many people cannot. It would make for a better informed populous if you would record and broadcast these.”
The county started looking for a system seriously last year and obtained information and presentations from several systems. Mitchell said she knows some municipal clerks who have worked with this system and it comes highly recommended.
“I believe the plan is to have the Board of Commissioners on this system as well as the planning commission,” said Mitchell. She explained that she the clerk to the Board of Commissioners and doesn’t handle other county commissions and boards, so she doesn’t know which of them might also use the new system. She did confirm that the system package can handle up to nine boards.
The county is in the process of obtaining all the required equipment including a video encoder, extra microphones, camera and other accessories because the system has to travel once a month for the county commissioner session in Buena Vista. It also needs to be mobile so it can be taken to other venues such as the Chaffee County Fairgrounds in case of a special meeting.
Mitchell said the county doesn’t yet have a date to take the system live. It does plan to complete in-person staff training on the system during April. Her enthusiasm for the new system is evident.
“As clerk to the board, it has been one of my goals to implement a system like this since I became the clerk in 2015. Our current board knows how important this is to citizens. I’m glad we are finally implementing this new system. I think citizens are really going to like it.”
“In response to other public comments in the past we’re moving ahead,” said Commissioner Greg Felt the day the contract was signed. “Lori (Mitchell) did all the research, and it’s got probably more capacity than we need right now.”