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Port of Bremerton to televise meetings in 2009

Commissioners vote to move meetings to Norm Dicks Center, broadcast on BKAT.

The Port of Bremerton will begin broadcasting its commissioners’ meetings on local television next year after deciding to hold them at the Norm Dicks Government Center in Bremerton.

Last week, the board voted to make the move, which will save the port a substantial amount of money since it will not be required to remodel its current meeting space to allow such broadcasts over Bremerton Kitsap Access Television (BKAT).

According to the resolution approved Dec. 16, the center is fully-equipped for audio-visual recordings and broadcasts, and since the “port has a stake in the facility, it is available for our use at no charge.”

The cost savings are substantial, which staff estimates at at least $70,000. Those savings include not having to “upgrade the meeting room for the audio-visual requirements and staging,” a cost estimated to be $70,000. In addition, if the port did not use the center, “an expensive remodel” would be required, at a cost it had not determined.

Broadcasting from the center would also reportedly save BKAT money, since the cost to broadcast from the port office would cost $14,520, while the cost for broadcasting from the center in Bremerton is only $5,970, for a total savings of $8,550.

Broadcasting the meetings on BKAT is part of the port’s initiative to make their procedures more accessible to the public.

“In an effort to to better inform the citizens of the port district and other interested parties of port activities, regular business meetings shall be broadcast on (BKAT) beginning in January of 2009,” the resolution states.

In order to accommodate the broadcast production schedule, the port will change its meeting schedule, however.

Instead of having the first meeting of the month at 7 p.m. and the second at 10 a.m., the board will flip that schedule and hold the first meeting — on the second Tuesday of the month — at 10 a.m., and the second meeting at 7 p.m.

The port also plans to hold two study sessions a month, on alternate Tuesdays, which it will hold at its offices at the Bremerton National Airport terminal at 9 a.m. on the first and third Tuesdays of the month, if required.

Broadcasting the meetings is part of the port’s “Community Outreach and Participation Policy,” approved in May of this year. That policy outlined steps the port would take to better inform and engage the public, including, “providing access to its regular meetings through use of web streaming, televising or other electronic means.”

Other steps already taken include: providing evening meetings, “maintaining and regularly updating a Web site that ... provides information about Port activities, proposed actions, actions taken, plans, projects, agendas, and contact information.”

When the policy was approved, Ken Attebery, the port’s retiring chief executive officer, described the “Community Outreach/Participation Policy” as way to improve the “two-way conversation” between the port and the public.

Commissioner Bill Mahan, who worked with the port staff to create the policy, said the need for such changes became apparent after the public outcry following the port’s decision to establish an Industrial Development District tax in 2006, which last year began collecting 45 cents more from homeowners per $1,000 of assessed property value.

“The mistake we made was not being transparent in what we were doing,” Mahan said. “We followed the laws, but if this policy had been in place, the IDD Levy would have been put on the ballot for a vote.”

Other members of the audience who commented on the new policy commended the port for creating it, but also asked that it go further.

Gene Hart requested that the plan include specifics such as an “annual” report being provided instead of a “periodic” report, and that notifications of meetings be e-mailed as well as advertised in mailings or press releases.

“I don’t think you’ve gone far enough,” said John Hanson, explaining that while it was easier recently for him to get requested information from the port, he felt the policy was missing a crucial ingredient — public involvement.

“There was no citizen involvement (in this document),” he said, adding that the public should have been involved in the process since “it is (them) who are missing the information.”

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