Katy City Council unanimously approved hiring Dallas-based Swagit Productions LLC to livestream its meetings at an Oct. 26 special meeting.

Katy City Council has been livestreaming its meetings, held via Zoom, and uploading them to YouTube for residents to view for as long as pandemic regulations have been in place.

Council has talked about hiring Swagit Productions LLC for live streaming services since 2019, but there were questions around the legality of recording any committees outside of City Council and about the cost, Katy Mayor Bill Hastings told Community Impact Newspaper last year.

“The initiative to purchase the Swagit video equipment and support is in preparation of resuming in-person council meetings,” City Administrator Byron Hebert told Community Impact Newspaper. “When we do resume with in-person meetings, we want to be sure that we do so in a manner that provides our citizens with the option of viewing the council meetings from the safety of their home.”

For the moment, council is unable to resume in-person meetings as the coronavirus spread in Harris County remains at the highest possible level, which is Level 1: Stay Home, Hebert added.

As for the costs associated with Swagit, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, which established the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, will cover the full amount of $61,730. The annual fee of $17,130 will have to be budgeted in subsequent years, Hebert said.

Equipment and software setup will cost $44,600, and the annual managed meeting services and social media streaming will cost $17,130.

Swagit, which works with many local entities, will do all of the camera work remotely.

If the city decides to expand to record all boards, the city will consider alternative packets in a future budget, City Secretary Becky McGrew said at the meeting.

“We have an opportunity here to have the CARES Act pay for the bones—the cameras, the setup, the recordings, audio,” Hebert said at the meeting.