“That one was just practice,” Killeen Mayor Jose Segarra said as City Council members fidgeted with their new voting buttons during the regular council meeting Tuesday.
Tuesday’s gathering was the council’s second in the newly renovated chambers at City Hall.
The redesign, completed earlier this month, included new electrical wiring, new air-conditioning, lighting and superficial improvements, including carpet, upholstery, paint, window shades and a redesigned council dais.
The voting process has been made electronic, so rather than raising a hand or vocalizing a vote, council members press a button on a small pad before them, and their vote is cast on to the two large TV screens mounted on the front walls of the chamber. This allows those in attendance to clearly see how each member voted on issues. Using cameras placed throughout the chamber, the screens also show close-up views of who is speaking and their title.
Council members use the buttons on their individual control pads to request a turn to speak. A push of a button creates a queue for Segarra, who is then able to call on council members in the order of their request, without the confusion that could sometimes be caused by members raising their hands.
A separate touch-screen monitor at the podium allows presenters to make changes and point out significant matters when presenting to the council.
Both the technology upgrades and renovation, which totaled $410,000, were funded through public, educational or governmental funds, which are paid by cable providers as a requirement for their state franchise.
Construction began in early August, but plans were in the works as early as last February. The chambers had not had any major updates since construction in 1995.
Council meetings take place on Tuesday evenings, and can be viewed at any time on the city website, https://www.killeentexas.gov/281/Council-Live-Streaming.