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New camera system sought to record Wallingford government meetings

New camera system sought to record Wallingford government meetings

reporter photo

WALLINGFORD — The local government television station is seeking $50,000 to replace the camera system that records town meetings.

Mayor William W. Dickinson Jr. included the new system in his proposed 2019-20 budget after a request from Scott Hanley, government access television manager.

Hanley said he wants to replace the four cameras in the Town Hall council chambers, as well as a remote controller and switcher.

“We try to be as unobtrusive as possible,” he said.

WGTV broadcasts and records meetings of several town boards and commissions, including the Town Council and Planning and Zoning Commission.

“In many cases,” he said, “the value of the meeting coverage is really, ultimately, to demystify the process of local government.”

The current camera system is 10 years old, he said. Pixels are burning out, images are becoming grainy, and one camera has had to be replaced.

“While they’re not used every day, they are on for long periods of time,” he said.

Acquiring cameras that can perform better in low light would be better suited for the auditorium, which has uneven lighting, he said. Hanley expects the new cameras will last about seven years.

He hasn’t selected a brand or model yet. If approved, he would likely purchase the cameras during the summer and install them over the winter holidays, when there’s a long break between town meetings.

The original system, installed in 2009, cost $67,000. The cost was offset partially by a $41,000 state grant from the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority, then called the Department of Public Utility Control.

Hanley said the grant, a technology equipment investment fund created in 2007 when cable was deregulated, isn’t available anymore.

“That fund, since 2012, has been swept consistently … by the legislature into the general fund,” he said. “Cable subscribers pay for that, but it’s not going for its intended purpose any longer.”

Dickinson has proposed to fund the project through Connecticut Resources Recovery Authority Distribution Fund.

When CRRA dissolved, the town was owed money, Dickinson said, so the town established a fund to use on capital projects.

The Town Council discussed the purchase at its April 9 meeting.

Council Vice Chairman Tom Laffin asked Hanley whether the new cameras would have 4K display resolution, which delivers 4,000 pixels.

Hanley said most cameras released now can record in 4K.

“The intent is to try to keep it as streamlined as possible,” Hanley said.

WGTV began at the Wallingford Public Library in 1975 as a video service. It was a de facto community channel until WPAA was established in the late 1980s.

WGTV began transitioning to an independent channel in 1986, and the town took over management in 1993.

Much of WGTV’s content is archived on YouTube.
Twitter: @LCTakores