Do you know what’s happening at your town hall? If not, you may want to pay more attention, and here’s why.
While state and national government controversies continue to grab headlines, government on the local level has the most profound effect on your daily life.
From zoning ordinances (deciding what can be built across the street from your home or office and what it will look like) to police and fire protection, from garbage and recycling pickup to park and recreational opportunities, it’s local government that’s responsible for many of the services and amenities you enjoy.
But many people who live in the six Mecklenburg County towns outside of Charlotte, not far from the I-485 outerbelt, either don’t understand how local government works, or can’t take the time to attend town meetings.
We’re excited to be offering an option to our citizens and stakeholders who can’t make it to our meetings in person. Sometimes other obligations come up and schedules get busy. This will be another way our citizens can remain engaged and involved in the town’s governing process
Matthews Mayor Jim Taylor
Now some local municipalities are making it easier to keep up with government happenings by live streaming town board meetings. That means town residents can log on to the town websites and watch the meetings as they happen.
Davidson and Huntersville live stream all town board meetings and then archive the videos so they can be accessed later. Later this fall, Matthews will begin video recording town meetings and linking the video to their website a few days later.
We made the decision to live stream and archive our meetings as one of the new board’s first acts. The board felt using technology to directly reach the public is vital in engaging the citizens of Huntersville.
Huntersville Mayor John Aneralla
Cornelius does not video their meetings, but does transcribe them and that transcription can be followed live on the town website.
Neither Mint Hill nor Pineville offer online access to their meetings, but both towns say they will provide a CD recording of their town meetings -- upon request.
In addition to meetings, residents also can keep up with town news via their towns’ social media accounts.
Town leaders say they want as many citizens involved in local government as possible, and hope that easier access to meetings via video will help.
“We’re excited to be offering an option to our citizens and stakeholders who can’t make it to our meetings in person. Sometimes other obligations come up and schedules get busy. This will be another way our citizens can remain engaged and involved in the town’s governing process. I’m all for it,” said Matthews Mayor Jim Taylor.
Huntersville Mayor John Aneralla said the new town board, which took office late last year, spearheaded the town’s video initiative.
“We made the decision to live stream and archive our meetings as one of the new board’s first acts. The board felt using technology to directly reach the public is vital in engaging the citizens of Huntersville,” Aneralla said.
“We just recently expanded live streaming to include our recent retreat and plan on including our pre-meetings as well.”
Huntersville town clerk, Janet Pierson, said while the audience isn’t that large for many of the videos, if there is a controversial item on the agenda, the audience count goes up.
“What I find is that if people are satisfied with the way things are going, then they are not going to take the time to watch. But if it’s an issue that they are concerned about, this is a way that they can see what’s happening,” Pierson said.
Davidson public information officer Cristina Shaul said it’s about encouraging citizen involvement.
“It’s my job to engage as many citizens as possible. If they are not able to attend in person, then they can live stream or go back and watch the meeting later. It’s a way to make sure our citizens can get involved if they want to,” Shaul said.
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