SOUDERTON — Video or audio taping of meetings, live streaming meetings, social media, newsletters and changes to the borough's website are all things a new exploratory committee that could become permanent will look into as ways of increasing communication with borough residents.
At Souderton Borough Council's Feb. 17 work session meeting, Vice President Julie Munden said she would like to start a communications committee with other council members and volunteers from the community.
She said she'd also like to see the borough again start putting out a newsletter, which was done in the past, but is not currently done.
"One of the other things we want to do is update our website," Munden said. "It's a busy, confusing website and I just want to make sure that it's easy for people."
Another thing to be looked into would be starting a borough Facebook page, which would be to post "strictly events, not to post any sort of controversy," she said.
She said the committee would also look at how other towns communicate with residents.
"I want Souderton to do the same thing and I would love for all of us to be involved in that," Munden said.
Council member Daryl Littlefield said he's looked into Facebook pages by other towns.
"It's strictly used to just promote things within the town," he said.
Council President Brian Goshow said the newsletter was dropped when the borough began adding onto what is posted on the website. The borough's website was recently updated, he said.
Goshow said he thinks it is a good idea to restart the newsletter, but has concerns about starting a Facebook page.
"If it's Souderton Borough's Facebook page, who authorizes who to run it?" he asked.
There would be a moderator, Munden said.
"The reason it scares me is because people are waiting to pounce on that kind of stuff," Goshow said of the Facebook page suggestion.
The borough's website shouldn't be the only thing the municipality depends on to communicate with residents, Littlefield said.
"I think you have to think of other avenues to reach out," he said.
In his experience, Goshow said, one of the problems that arises is the borough gets accused of favoritism because it lists a business or event and other businesses or groups whose event wasn't listed become upset.
"It's a challenge," Goshow said.
"It is a challenge," Munden said. "I can't sit here and say I'm gonna be able to communicate the right or wrong things, but I feel like there's not enough communication in this borough."
"To who?" Goshow asked.
"To the residents, to the people that live in this town," Munden said.
Communication is a two-way street and the borough does put out information, Goshow said.
"If people don't listen, they don't listen," he said.
"But you gotta make the effort of outreach to the community," Littlefield said.
"I don't think the newspaper and the website are enough," Munden said.
People communicate different today than 10 years ago, or even five years ago, council member Donna Rogers said.
Following a suggestion from council member Matt Mschichowski, it was decided that an exploratory committee would be formed to bring back suggestions and possibly become a permanent committee.
"It's a way to get it started," Mschichowski said.
Goshow, who is currently in his fourth four-year-term on council, said his experience was being ignored by the newer council members. Munden has been on council for two years. Rogers and Littlefield took office the beginning of this year.
"Part of communication is listening," Goshow said. "I started [speaking] and I had three people continue to talk over top of me."
"I've been around the block a few times. If that doesn't mean anything to you, figure it all out yourself," he said. "Good luck with that."
"Just because you're paranoid of social media doesn't mean somebody can't do some research," Rogers said.
"You should probably check your words before you say things like people are paranoid about things," Goshow said.
"Well, you just said social media scares the hell out of you," Rogers said.
"It scares the hell out of me from a governmental standpoint," Goshow said. "I'm just being reasonable."
The discussion then moved on to a suggestion made earlier this month by resident Charl Wellener that borough meetings be videotaped.
Other variations raised at the Feb. 17 meeting included audio taping or live streaming. The video or audio could then be made available on the borough's website or through social media for people who weren't able to attend the meeting, Munden said.
"It's also a historical record," she said.
"If you put it on record, though, you've gotta keep it, you've gotta store it," Goshow said. "There's a challenge to that, a cost challenge."
Wellener said she's talked to people in other towns that videotape their meetings.
"The initial output for the costs was minimal, around $200, $250," she said.
The storage is done over the internet, she said.
Having the recording available gives people who couldn't be at the meeting the chance to hear everything that was said, rather than just getting a summary, she said.
The exploratory committee will add recording the meetings into the things it is looking into for increased communication and will report back to the full council, Munden said.