City Response Needed: What Would Recording All Meetings Cost Your City?

June 8, 2020

The Legislative Budget Office seeks city input on a bill that would require audio or audiovisual recordings of all city meetings.

A bill to require cities to make audio or audiovisual recordings of all city meetings was introduced during the 2020 regular legislative session. To understand how much it would cost cities to meet the requirements in this bill, the Legislative Budget Office is asking cities to take a survey.

While this bill (HF 3200, Rep. Mike Freiberg, DFL-Golden Valley) was never heard in any committee and the regular session is over, there was a request made for a local impact note. The purpose of the survey is to inform that note. (Read a previous story about the bill.)

Before responding to the survey, there are several factors cities should consider, including the meetings that would need to be recorded, the added cost this requirement would bring to the city, and the cost to post recordings on the city website.

What meetings should be included?

The bill requires all meetings governed by the Open Meeting Law to be recorded and for the recordings to be retained for three years. This includes meetings of the city council and all advisory bodies, such as the city’s:

  • Planning commission
  • Park board
  • Housing and redevelopment authority
  • Economic development authority
  • Civil service commission/board
  • Library board
  • Utilities commission

What financial considerations should be included?

Only costs that would be above and beyond what the city is currently doing should be included when estimating how much this new requirement would cost. For example, some cities may already televise or stream their city council meetings, but not their board and commission meetings. Any additional recordings should be included in your cost estimate.

The city should include:

  • Recording costs related to meetings not currently recorded. This would include additional advisory bodies that aren’t currently recorded, any new technology or equipment needed for recording, etc.
  • Additional retention costs. If the city has adopted the General Records Retention Schedule, audio/video recordings for non-closed meetings are only required to be kept for three months after minutes have been approved. Costs beyond the current retention period should be included.
  • Additional staff costs.

What would it cost to post recordings on the city website?

An amendment was drafted to the bill that would have required recordings of all meetings to be on the city website. When asked what other information should be considered, include any anticipated website costs (for example, costs to host the audio/audiovisual recordings for all meetings on the city website for three years, costs related to website accessibility requirements for these recordings under the Americans With Disabilities Act, etc.).

If you have any questions about this bill or how to respond to this survey, contact Irene Kao, LMC, at (651) 281-1260 or ikao@lmc.org.

Survey instructions from the Legislative Budget Office

The Legislative Budget Office explained that it needs information from cities to complete the estimate of the fiscal impact requested by the Legislature. It should only take a few minutes to complete the survey.

The information provided in the survey will be compiled in an overall estimate for the impact to the local entities affected by the legislation. Survey answers will not be individually identified and will only be referenced generally in the local impact note. The survey will provide the Legislature with information to make informed decisions about HF 3200.

Please note, if there are costs for your entity, the Legislative Budget Office asks that you provide a reasonable estimate not influenced by your position or opinion on the bill, but that simply gives an estimate of the costs identified for your entity should the bill become law. The local impact note process does not take the merits of the bill into consideration. That is handled outside the process of the local impact note. If you have questions regarding the merits of the bill, please contact the bill author.

Please respond to the survey by June 19. If you have any questions about this survey or about the local impact note, contact Kathryn Ho, Legislative Budget Office coordinator, at (651) 297-7146 or Kathryn.ho@lbo.leg.mn.

—Take the HF 3200 Local Impact Note Survey