City council's new iPads will save time and money
May 03, 2013 (The Dispatch - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
City manager Alan Carson said the purchase of these electronic tablets is part of the green initiative goals the city council members set for themselves last year. "The purchase of the iPads will help cut down on the amount of paper we use, especially when it comes to printing out our agenda," he said. "It also helps with communicating with the council by keeping everything all in one place." One example he mentioned was how much easier it will be to email all the members information at one time instead of trying to track each one down individually.
Council members spent over an hour after their budget workshop Thursday receiving basic training from the city's information technology specialist, Chris Smith, on how to use the new gadgets. They learned how to connect to the city WiFi; how to check and send emails; and how to use the different applications. Now that all the council members have portable electronic devices, they will be issued new governmental email addresses, instead of using their personal email accounts. These email addresses will be updated on the city's website for citizens who wish to contact them.
Carson emphasized that these iPads were paid for by the taxpayers, so they are only to be used for governmental business. Also, whenever a council member is no longer part of the board, their iPad will be returned to the city manager's office and wiped of all personal information. They will also be responsible for any damages or replacement costs outside normal wear and tear.
The idea of purchasing the iPads started during the city council retreat this past year as part of their green initiative goal. It was one of the 10 goals the council wished to accomplish during the year. Also included in this initiative was an increase in recycling, a 10 percent reduction in fuel consumption and utilizing hybrid vehicles. Councilman Frank Callicutt said, "These will make us more productive as well as saving paper. We are saving a lot of trees just by not printing the agendas twice a month."
Many of the other members agreed with this assessment. Council member Tonya Lanier said, "I think they are going to come in handy. It's moving us in a new direction and is helping further our green initiatives."
After a period of training, the council hopes to begin using the tablets for its agenda during the bi-monthly meetings by the end of June. "We need to get familiar with how to use them, but I think they will be helpful. It will be a time-saver as well as helping our paperless goal," said Councilman Wayne Alley.
The city purchased a total of 15 new iPads, which includes ones for the mayor, city council members, the city attorney, the city manager and his staff.
Although the outlaying expense may seem steep, the switch will save the city $13,150 a year in printing and labor cost. "It's moving us forward technically," said Councilman Lewis Phillips. "These tablets will also lower our operation costs as far as printing all those agendas."
The purchase price on each was $495 or a total of $7,425. An additional $11,520 in new software brings the total investment to $18,945. The council has budgeted $1,630 per year for the next four and a half years to repay the cost.
Mayor Newell Clark said, "The hardware is easy to use, and the software looks very familiar. It may be more work for the IT department initially, but I think everyone will get the hang of it. Most importantly, it will be saving the city as a whole in the long run."
Some council members initially struggled with this new technology, but most of them picked it up pretty quickly. "It will take a little bit of time to get used to them, but it's helping us move forward," said Councilman Ronald Reid.
Another benefit to the purchase of these tablets was the time that will be saved by electronically communicating with each other. Councilman Donnie McBride said, "I think once we feel comfortable using them it will be a real time-saver. For example, if a member of the public sends me a picture of something they are concerned about, I can just email it to everyone without having to drive around and show everyone."
One of the biggest benefits to converting from paper to electronic is just keeping up with today's technically advanced society. Councilman Linwood Bunce said, "I feel we are getting up to speed with other government entities. We are modernizing to keep up with the rest of the world."
Councilman Jim Myers said: "These iPads are going to help a lot. Not only is it going to save money, it's going to save time."
Sharon Myers can be reached at 249-3981, ext, 228 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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