PASCAGOULA, Miss. (WLOX) - Pascagoula city leaders Friday announced via Facebook they were no longer able to live stream council meetings, citing technical issues and a lack of funds. Since that post went live, more than a hundred residents have chimed in, most not happy about the decision.
“At the end of the day I think it’s incumbent upon our city officials to keep the lines of communication open. And in this day and age where Facebook unfortunately in smaller communities has taken the place of communication, it’s very important," said Pascagoula resident Martha Gallahue.
Gallahue said there’s no need to upgrade. City leaders just need to speak into the microphones.
“I am a mother of two children, can’t get away to every meeting, but I certainly enjoy listening to them, seeing what people are commenting, so that I can understand the concerns of the citizens," she added.
Gallahue isn’t the only one who’s not in favor of canceling the livestreams. One person commented, “Another way to shut the citizens out and only record what you want to be seen, how convenient.”
“How much would the upgrade cost? I think it would be tax dollars well spent," another person said.
Assistant City Manager Frank Corder said the city was forced to make financial decisions over the past year that included cutting more than 40 positions and millions of dollars out of the budget in an effort to clean up the mismanagement of the past.
“In early 2018, we considered the possibility of upgrading the A/V equipment in the Council chambers to add multiple cameras, drop microphones overhead, rewiring the chambers and the like," Corder said. "However, due to budget realities the city has faced, that luxury was placed on the back burner for obvious reasons.
“Ending the live feature merely encourages those interested to attend meetings to hear the proceedings in hopes of mitigating the contention over poor sound quality on the videos, but uploading the videos maintains the transparency this Council has been committed to provide despite our challenges.
“Videos do not provide this same access or opportunity to interact; it merely provides an added luxury to those who may be unable to attend the meeting. We are continuing to provide a similar service, just in a manner that encourages in-person attendance while living within our means financially.
“If we must choose between our staff, critical services and righting our fiscal ship versus luxuries that are optional when we can continue to provide similar transparency through our commitment to open meetings and online access in some form, then this administration will choose to be fiscally responsible and focused on vital services to every citizen first and foremost.”
Ultimately, the sound quality can’t be upgraded. So the city’s final decision was to nix the livestream.
“I think communication is more important than ever, and I believe we can find the funds. We’ve been able to find funds given our financial situation for just about everything so far that we’ve needed at the end of the day. So I think we can find funds for a few extra microphones in the room," Gallahue said.
The city will continue to record the meetings and place them on Youtube.
The city's council meetings are always open for the public to attend in person.