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Politics & Government

New Castle County Council passes public access legislation

Delaware Public Media

New Castle County Council meetings will likely be live-streamed starting next year.

New Castle County Council passed an ordinance this week that, if approved by the County Executive, will allow citizens to live-stream County Council meetings. Audio and video files will also be available on-demand after meetings.  

Council passed the measure with 11 yes votes and 2 absent following a lengthy discussion.

County Councilman Bob Weiner sponsored the legislation. He says it’s been a ten-year effort toward greater transparency and accountability in County Council.

“This legislation furthers open government, and more importantly makes it easier for constituents to be involved,” he said.

Weiner points out County Council— as well as County commissions and boards— are already audio taped, but are not accessible in real-time.

“While constituents may want to attend every meeting, the reality is they cannot be physically present,” he said. “A livestream or on-demand enables them from the comfort of their home or wherever their smartphone or computer may be to understand the difficult issues that we have to engage in and resolve.”

He claims the equipment will cost roughly $50,000 and be put into the budget next fiscal year, along with a few thousand dollars for tech support.

The ordinance requires live streaming and on-demand audio be implemented in March, on-demand video be up and running next September, and live-streaming video be available next December.

A second ordinance requiring meetings of four boards to be live-streamed was tabled by Council this week because there wasn’t a majority of Council members prepared to vote in favor.

Weiner says he plans to seek support from the boards , and hopes Council will vote on the ordinance in a month.