By: Cady Inabinett
Updated at 9:26 p.m. on Feb. 23, 2021 to add that City Council minutes had been updated.
The Montevallo City Council meeting livestreamed on the City of Montevallo Facebook page on Feb. 8 included audio for only 20 seconds of its 45-minute runtime, which left those who rely on the livestream to access council meetings unable to do so. This not the first time that the city has encountered audio issues during their livestreams of meetings.
City council meetings, as well as other city committee meetings, have been held concurrently in City Hall while being livestreamed on the city’s Facebook page in order to decrease in person attendance to ensure social distancing.
However, there are frequently audio issues with these livestreams. Out of the past fifteen meetings, five have had noticeable audio issues. Issues range from having the audio cut out completely for a period of time, such as what occurred with the Feb. 8 livestream, being unable to understand what participants of the meeting are saying or being unable to determine who is speaking.
This issue has been brought up to the council. Comments are often made on meeting livestreams about the lack of audio. However, these comments go largely unanswered.
For example, on the livestream from Feb. 8, there are six comments regarding the lack of audio on the video.
There is only one comment from the city’s end about the issue, made one minute and 39 seconds into the livestream, saying, “We are working on audio issues.”
Comments, such as user Jimmie Rosati’s comment requesting for a summary of what is occurring “while the sound is turned off,” went unanswered.
The Alabamian reached out to the council for a comment on the audio issues, but received no response.
The issue has also been brought up during the citizens’ participation portion of council meetings.
At the Oct. 12 meeting, two citizens, Shirley Cunningham and Amanda Fox, addressed the audio issues that occur during livestreams, with Fox pointing out that there is often “an echo.”
Members of the council were asked to “speak into the microphone.” Both of these addresses were left out of the meeting’s minutes.
Additionally, minutes for city council meetings are not approved or published on the city’s website until the next city council meeting.
City council meetings are held on the second and fourth Mondays of the month, so there will always be at least a two-week delay between a meeting and its minutes being published. This also means that there will be a two-week delay in a meeting occurring and the public being able to see what occurred at that meeting in instances where there are audio issues with the livestream, such as what occurred at the Feb. 8 meeting.
Council meeting minutes were approved and added to the city’s website at the council meeting on Feb. 22. Prior to this update, the most recent minutes publicly available on the city’s website were from the Jan. 11 council meeting. Two more meetings had occurred in that time, so there was a five-week delay in available minutes.