Regional Health Agency purchases meeting recording system

Branch-Hillsdale-St. The Joseph Community Health Agency contacted two vendors for quotes to install equipment to capture board meetings and stream them online.

After disruptions by protesters in November, the agency moved its meeting to the Branch County Courthouse, where those who wished to attend without a mask could do so.

At its Coldwater offices that provide medical services, it was necessary to continue requiring masks to meet state health mandates.

Staff recommended accepting the $17,933 quote from US Systems Inc., which was also the company recommended by the Hillsdale County CIO. Hillsdale County also used equipment and services designed by the American system.

The AV design offered by the system allows for live webcasting and recording, microphones, sound, and integrated video presentations.

The design does not provide Zoom interaction for online participants. Under the Open Meetings Act, Zoom meetings are no longer permitted for public bodies.

Hillsdale County Board Member and Commissioner Brent Leininger said, “It has the downside of not being an interactive system.”

The other bid to enable online interaction was over $33,000.

The company must complete the installation by September 30, the end of the current agency and state fiscal year.

A telephone type system with speakers and a computer connection used in 2021 was of poor quality. The new system will ensure “that you capture all comments and discussions, so you really know what happened,” said Rebecca Burns, director of the agency.

Recordings of the meeting will remain online for public viewing.

The agency’s board also decided to limit the minutes for public comments after one person didn’t want to use their name. In the absence of a recommendation from the Policy Committee, the Board voted only to indicate whether there were public comments.

“Minutes are the record of the body’s legal action,” Leininger said. “Our political deliberations do not need to be recorded in the minutes. Our motions and once seconded, only the vote need be recorded.”

Hillsdale Commissioner Mark Wiley said: “We are simply stating that the public comments have taken place. We also have the recording so that if there are any questions about what has been said we refer to the ‘registration.”

The agency’s board decided that its policy would be to record public comments in the minutes stating that a number of citizens made public comments.