County Becoming Transparent

Madison County residents will be able to watch meetings, review minutes, and fill out public records request forms, all without leaving their desks. The Board of Supervisors recently approved the "Madison County Government Transparency Initiative."

The initiative will provide a number of benefits, including allowing board meetings to be streamed live and archived online, said District Three Supervisor Gerald Steen. The program is expected to go "live" in the next 30 to 45 days, and a tab for live board meetings has already been placed on the county's website. "Transparency is big for us. We definitely want to set the standard, and this is another step to show that we can," he said. Steen pointed to other things the county has done in the past, including posting agendas and board packets online for the public to read prior to meetings, something that will continue under the new initiative.

The system will be operated by U.S.NEXT, the vendor who hosts the county's current website. The next step will be to archive board minutes, which will happen at a later date, said County Administrator Tony Greer. In all, equipment and annual contract costs will run a little more than $3,500.

Greer said the idea to provide additional access came out of an earlier board retreat. "This is one of their priorities," he said. "The board is serious about allowing the public broad access to the inner workings of government."

(Reprinted from The Northside Sun, March, 31, 2016.)