The city is upgrading its public meeting broadcasting equipment which will allow for the regular city council meetings to be streamed online. In a city where very little information is digitally available through the municipal government the upgrades open a new avenue for residents to keep up with the actions of their elected officials.
Council members awarded a $34,940 contract to Clifton-based Commercial Technology Contractors for the acquisition and installation of the new audio and visual equipment at the city’s council chamber control room.
The equipment being replaced is decades old. For example, the city still uses VHS tapes to record its meetings.
The upgrades are being funded by the Paterson Restoration Corporation (PRC), a quasi-governmental nonprofit that issues small business loans. The nonprofit agreed to fund the upgrades in return for the city to enter into a 15-year lease agreement worth $5.25 million for the Ellison Street studio that now houses the Paterson Digital Library, the Extended Opportunity School for dropouts, and the public access studio.
Council members at first rejected the lease agreement, but later came around supporting it. At the time, Jamie Dykes, chairman of the Paterson Restoration Corporation, estimated the upgrades would cost $80,000-$85,000.
Michael Jackson, 1st Ward councilman, complained the corporation promised $85,000 and was only paying $35,000.
Ruben Gomez, executive director of the Paterson Restoration Corporation, said the corporation never agreed to a dollar amount, but agreed to pay for the equipment. Gomez is also the economic development director of Paterson. Because the PRC is a quasi-governmental organization, the city’s economic director also serves as the nonprofit’s executive director.
Gomez said the city’s technology and broadcasting employees picked out the equipment being purchased.
Jackson also stated the city is paying for the $34,940 equipment rather than the corporation. Gomez pointed to a second resolution that establishes a trust fund that will allow the corporation to reimburse the city.
Council members approved both resolutions on Sept. 19th, 2017.