The West Bloomfield Township Board of Trustees voted Monday, Feb. 7 to establish an Internet communications plan through the formation of a special committee.
The measure passed by a 4-3 vote, with Township Supervisor Michelle Economou Ureste, Trustee Steve Kaplan and Treasurer Teri Weingarden casting the three “no” votes.
According to a memo from Township Clerk Cathy Shaughnessy, the resolution would establish a committee comprised of herself, Weingarden and the director of information technology, along with Civic Center TV staff members and other personnel deemed necessary by the township supervisor.
The resolution also calls for up to $20,000 from the township’s cable fund to pay contractors to improve the township’s website, as well as to purchase hardware for permanent archiving.
Shaughnessy stated in her memo that the updated website would give township departments the ability to upgrade content with a more consistent design, and that residents will have better access to township business.
She added that the township can use cable franchise fees to purchase new web servers and upgrade the township’s website with increased storage for archives, including documents, and audio and video files, which she said would decrease the need for some Freedom of Information Act requests.
Township Trustee Gene Farber added that another goal would to be to air all township meetings on demand via cable television.
“We can use (PEG) funds from franchise fees for capital improvements,” he said, referring to public, educational and governmental fees paid annually to the township by cable television providers. “The whole purpose is to see what we can come up with and the committee will look at what is feasible.”
Ureste said she voted against the resolution because it would compromise the $460,000 the township receives in cable and franchise fees.
“We should be focusing on public safety,” she said.
Kaplan said he would prefer to have ideas emanate from members of the township’s IT staff and have them presented to the board.