Mt. Lebanon Municipal Building

Harry Funk/The Almanac

Mt. Lebanon Municipal Building

When the Mt. Lebanon Commission returns to in-person meetings in September, remote participation will continue to be available, with some changes.

During the commission’s discussion session conducted virtually Tuesday, manager of information technology Nick Schalles outlined how future meetings can be accessed online, along with planned upgrades to enhance video and audio capabilities.

As implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic, the process for viewing a meeting in real time is to register online beforehand and receive a Zoom link by email. As of September, registration no longer will be necessary.

“If you click the link, it’s just going to put you into the meeting as an attendee and you’re going to watch it as a livestream,” Schalles said. “With that change, there has to be a tweak to the citizens’ comment phase.”

He said remote participants would use Zoom’s “raised hand” function to gain attention.

“We can see that on our end and process it as necessary,” he said.

Also, commissioners who are not able to attend in person will have a more effective means of participating. Previously, they called in by telephone and were limited to audio communication.

Meetings of municipal boards and authorities will move to the same platform, and Commissioner Leeann Foster expressed particular enthusiasm about the ability for greater access.

“I think it’s a very healthy and good thing, because pre-pandemic, one of the things I noticed is someone was out of town, and a lot of our board and authority folks are very, very busy people — they wouldn’t get the opportunity to participate that week,” she said. “I think it sometimes is a hindrance to people actually applying to boards and authorities, and this will allow a lot more of our community to be able to participate.”

To enhance the audiovisual presentation of meetings, new equipment is planned for Mt. Lebanon Municipal Building’s Commission Chambers, along with Room C, where the discussion sessions normally are held, and the smaller Room B.

“Each room will have a control computer, which controls the video feed to Zoom,” Schalles said, noting an audio mixer will be added, too. “Sometimes you may have to tweak it a little bit, depending on the meeting. But we’ll have everything marked, so we can put it back to exactly where it was.

“Also, the rooms will receive TVs or new projectors, depending on which one would be the best fit. We’re probably going to move away from projectors and try to do TVs on the wall, depending on the cost,” he added.

Regarding municipal expenditures, Schalles said the new equipment is “not going to be a huge amount of money,” and he would provide commissioners with numbers as soon as he received them from suppliers.

He told commissioners many items are on backorder, primarily because of pandemic-related issues, but he plans to have a system in place at the municipal building by the discussion session and Sept 14 voting meeting.

“Is it going to be the final product? It might not be,” he said. “We may have to put something together until we actually get our hands on some of these parts.”

Multimedia Reporter

Staff writer Harry Funk, a professional journalist for three-plus decades, has been on the staff of The Almanac since 2015. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and master of business administration, both from Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

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