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Pocatello city council looks at possible changes to its video services

Some changes could be coming to the city of Pocatello’s public access television channel. Over the past few months, the city council has been in budget discussion for 2019.

Part of that is looking at where the city can efficiently save money – and one are they felt needed a closer look was the video services department.

“We wanted to look at that and see how much it was being used and we saw it was being fairly underused,” said Linda Leeuwrik, city council member.

So video services and HR staff presented the council with three possible options for the department.

One option was complete elimination of the department. Another option involved outsourcing the streaming and video services.

The third option, which they feel is the best choice, would be restructuring video services.

“The discussion was around maybe restructuring video services and eliminating the community access part,” Leeuwrik said. “So we would not have a studio and we would not have the community access shows. But we would keep government access and educational access, like school board meetings and things like that.”

This means shows the public puts on like library segments or the bilingual show “La Voz Latina” would go away. City council meetings and the educational access would be moved.

“We’re still going to have our government access and we’re still going to have our city council meetings recorded and streamed so that citizens have that transparency and they can watch our meetings and see what’s going on,” explained Heidi Adamson, another city council member. “The change is that instead of having that done by video services department, it would be done by the IT department.”

The PIO, public information officer, position is currently the head of the video services department. With restructuring, that position would like be moved into the mayor’s office, but the city council says it would definitely not be done away with.

If video services was made a part of IT, a couple of part-time jobs and one full-time job in video services would likely be eliminated.

The studio space itself would be used where its needed to house growing city departments, like possibly planning or engineering.

“That’s kind of what we’ve been talking about is do we need to keep a studio that is barely being used and could we have some cost savings there?” Leeuwrik said.

The changes would save the city around $200,000 which could be put toward other necessities.

Adamson said one major issue that’s coming up with budget discussions is the need for more emergency personnel to hire the increased call volume. So that $200,000 could possibly help with that need.

The council said this is all just discussion at this point and no decision as been made – the council is looking at all options.

There will be a public hearing about the budget, including the video services options, at the regular city council meeting Aug. 2 at 6 p.m. at Pocatello City Hall.

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