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Antiquated cassette recorder must go

Outdated equipment blamed for inaccurate meeting minutes

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Posted: Saturday, September 21, 2013 9:41 am

Holly Twp. — An outdated recording system and the format of Holly Township’s meeting minutes became the topic of discussion during the public comment segment of the Sept. 18 Holly Township Board of Trustees meeting.

Grant Street resident Jim Manning told board members that he was dissatisfied with the quality of the township’s meeting minutes, blaming the inaccuracies on the poor quality of the meeting recordings.

“Many of the details are wrong, things are left out,” Manning said. “Our voices aren’t being heard, and we can do better. We’ve been asking for it for a long time, and I think in this modern day, we could get some modern equipment.”

Currently, the township uses a 1970s-era Sony cassette tape recording system. Clerk Karin Winchester said the transcriptionist produces the meeting minutes from the recording, and later re-records over the tape at the next meeting. Currently the township neither retains recordings of public meetings, nor produces audio copies for purchase by residents.

“Our minutes are not verbatim and are not transcribed,” Winchester said during the meeting. “That’s how we do the minutes, so the recording equipment is sufficient for the way that we are doing it now.”

On Thursday, Winchester said the original plan to upgrade the township’s recording equipment fell by the wayside after former Trustee Janet Leslie’s departure earlier this year.

“She was the one board member who was really driving the project,” Winchester said. “And the deeper we got into the project, the more we realized there was a little more to it than we had anticipated, especially as we began to consider new configurations for the meeting room.”

Winchester said she hopes to bring the matter to the forefront again. “We do have plans to upgrade to a digital recording system in the future,” she said. “By doing so, we will be able to keep copies of the meeting recordings more efficiently, and we can also make recordings of the meetings available to residents for purchase.”

Winchester said by making meeting recordings available to residents she believes the township’s current format of summarized meeting minutes will also become more accepted.

“Fundamentally, I think as a citizen, it would be nice to be able to say that whatever transpires in a meeting, we have some way that we can follow up on what is actually said,” resident Maria Smith said. “You can stand behind it — it’s transparency in government, and we really need that right now.”

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