Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Hospital District board votes to publicly release audio recordings of meetings


The Hood County Hospital District board of directors unanimously voted to begin uploading official audio recordings of its meetings to the Hood County website, during a regularly scheduled meeting June 14.

Before discussion began on the topic, Board President Christy Massey expressed hesitancy about purchasing audio equipment for this purpose as it was just “one more expense,” to the county.

Precinct 2 Commissioner Nannette Samuelson — who placed the item on the agenda — explained that her husband had donated a recording device to the board; therefore, the county would not have to provide additional funding for equipment.

“Well, that's your recording then,” Judge Ron Massingill said. “We're not ashamed of anything that's come up. We've got all these citizens. We at least have three recordings being made out here right now, and that makes four; that's fine. We have enough. We don't have to undertake this hospital district to say we've created an official recording.”

“In the light of being transparent with everything — because this is a hard time of day for people to come that want to hear what's going on at noon on a Friday — I would like to make the motion that I'll do the recording ... and that this audio recording be posted on the county website along with the minutes,” Samuelson said.

Resident Donnie Stone also echoed Samuelson’s comment about what time of day the meeting takes place every month and agreed that the board needs to be more transparent with the community.

"I know that we do have multiple people recording, but in light of you guys asking for, you know, $2 to $3 million in taxes, it's not going to hurt you to be more transparent,” Stone said. “I'm one of your biggest advocates in the hospital district, and it's really hard to defend when it looks like you're not being transparent or giving all the information to the public. I know that you don't think that, and I'm not accusing you of that, but I'm just saying the more information that you can get out to more people on a regular basis, the more fans you are going to have when it comes time to pay. Not only are we transparent now, but we're going to be transparent when we have $2 or $3 million of your tax money.”

Stone asked Samuelson if the meeting minutes were also available online for the public to view. Samuelson said they will be available once the new website launches.

"That's my other point is we have yet to see any minutes from the public's side of the Hospital District board, so I just encourage you to be as transparent as possible, just to get more information out because you're trying to get people to agree to a tax in this county right now,” he said. “Like, we all realize that's the challenge in itself, but the more transparent you can be, I think that would be better for you guys.”

“I agree with you 100%,” Precinct 4 Commissioner Dave Eagle said.

“So, the vote is for you to be able to take and record the minutes and you’re going to put it on the website?” Massingill asked, with confirmation from Samuelson. “I’m totally for that. Great. Good luck.”

With a motion on the table and a second from Eagle, the vote was called; the motion passed unanimously.