Nick Millwood

Ringgold Mayor Nick Millwood, during a recent City Council meeting, discusses the possibility of streaming meetings live on Facebook. (Catoosa News photo/Adam Cook)

Ringgold officials recently discussed streaming City Council meetings on social media using Facebook Live.

The possibility was a new business agenda item during the city's Aug. 28 meeting, and Mayor Nick Millwood says council members had a productive discussion about the matter during their work session.

"We did have a good conversation about some of the benefits and pitfalls of Facebook Live for our council meetings," Millwood said. "It was brought up that we need to look at what some of those costs may be, as far as archiving if there are any kind of requirements. ... We'll look and see what other cities are doing in regards to this."

The city already streams its City Council meetings on its website, cityofringgoldga.gov. But through Facebook, residents could view meetings a little easier and engage in conversation with others viewing it.

Millwood also says the city will look at the biggest issues surrounding the effort, the legalities.

"We'll look at any legal issues as far as commenting, retention of records, that kind of stuff," Millwood said.

Councilman Larry Black says like with any endeavor, there are pros and cons to be considered.

"We do feel like Facebook can be good and can be bad," Black said. "Anything we do that's generated by government, we're subject to the Georgia Open Records Act, so we did have a question about if we use that media from Facebook and we record those meetings, then how do we retain that just in case we are served with open record requests where we have to comply with that request within a certain amount of time period? All that entered into the legal issues that were pointed out. We're not necessarily against it, but we feel like we need a lot more information before we commit to doing something like that on Facebook Live."

Like Millwood, Mayor Pro Tem Terry Crawford says he's encouraged by the conversation, and likes the idea of keeping the public as involved as they want to be.

"We had a very good discussion about this in our work session," Crawford said. "Nobody is opposed to (the public) being able to see everything that's going on here, nobody is trying to hide or anything. We're already televising and sending these things out. ... All our meetings are open to the public, our work sessions are open to the public, and there are legal issues that goes with each one of these when we do them. We do need to know exactly where we stand on legal issues with this. We'll find out more about it."

The council could vote on the idea as soon as its next regularly scheduled meeting on Monday, Sept. 25.

"We're going to look at all those things and I appreciate the conversation we had in our work session about this," Millwood said. "We're going to look at gathering additional information."

Adam Cook is a general assignment reporter and covers the Walker-Catoosa County area. He has been a reporter since 2009. He can be reached at The Catoosa County News office at 706-935-2621 and by email at acook@npco.com.