Sammamish’s last minute decision to livestream its annual retreat, a first for the city and believed to be a first for any jurisdiction in the area, was an admirable step in the right direction.
It represented a quest for transparency and a hope for increased citizen participation.
Success was muted by the fact the only microphone was that on the camera itself. None was put strategically around the room to pick up the voices of the council members and staff.
Sammamish Comment, which was present at the retreat in Tacoma, received emails during the retreat that audio for the most part could not be heard during the livestream.
Lesson learned. Assuming the City does livestreaming next year, we’d expect a better audio set up. Another issue: video viewers could not see slides that council and staff could., and the stationary, single camera left it unclear who was speaking.
A special retreat on Sammamish will be scheduled in July focusing on city finances, the looming operating deficit in 2020 and how to fund road and stormwater projects. New taxes and new debt will be key points at the retreat.
Council Member Tom Odell essentially floated the idea of a 2% utility tax, which would raise $2m, by asking how much this amount would support in new bonds. This will be one of the points to be discussed at a finance retreat.
Member Ramiro Valderrama asked that franchise fees on the two water districts serving Sammamish and potentially contracting out stormwater management (presumably to the water districts) be included.
The Sammamish City Council Friday split over how much public comment is allowed at regular meetings and study sessions.
It’s a balance between giving the public as much latitude as possible while managing the Council’s time. Recent Council meetings had public comment sessions that have gone two hours or more. The resulted in Council meetings going past midnight vs a 10pm target.
Public comment sessions are limited today to three minutes for an individual and five minutes for a recognized group.