Dayton goes paperless: Council will begin using iPads in lieu of paper agendas

Thanks to an initiative kick started by Councilor Eric Lucero, the Dayton City Council anticipates saving thousands of dollars by using iPads. Lucero’s desire was to avoid having to deal with the physical storage requirements of the reams of paper accumulated over the years from agenda packets and other communications involved in city council work. He has been using his personal iPad to call up a copy of the agenda packet for council meetings. However, as with the issue of using personal cell phones in the past led the city to purchase city-owned cell phones for pertinent staff and the mayor, council authorized the purchase of five iPad 4’s to use for city business.

Once the iPads are distributed to all five council members, they will be offered training. The iPads will allow them to receive their agenda packets electronically, to download them and to store them digitally. Lucero said they will also want to install an application that allows them to highlight sections of the agenda and make annotations just as they might on a paper copy.

“The biggest challenge will be to make sure everyone using them is familiar with the technology,” said Lucero. While he hasn’t brainstormed other city-related uses for the iPads at this time, Mayor Tim McNeil has mentioned utilizing the iPads to allow for blogging or other communication purposes related to city business. Lucero believes the iPads will increase the council members’ mobility in allowing them to carry the iPads with them more readily than a paper packet. He also thinks they will promote communications in a more seamless fashion via email access and will be beneficial in storing, backing up and archiving documents in electronic form.
“It is a lot easier and has a lot less physical size requirements,” said Lucero.

Before approving the purchase, newly installed councilor Anne Ziebell mentioned she already had her own iPad . However, City Attorney George Hoff advised the council against using personal technology for city business.

Lucero said they intend to draft and adopt an acceptable use policy for all technology including the iPads and city-issued cell phones. Council members will likely be advised against using the iPads for personal use.

“I want to make clear, the purchase of these iPads isn’t to get toys for the council,” said Lucero. “The only reason I’m in favor of this is because of the tremendous savings to taxpayers. There is a very clear cost savings.”

The cost to purchase five iPads, with an additional $150 accessory allowance for a keyboard, case, stylus or other equipment as well as training fees, the total cost to the city is approximately $3,473.

With the $7,937 estimated annual cost to copy, assemble and hand deliver agenda packets to council members, city staff estimated the annual cost savings in the first year will be around $4,463 with savings increasing annual for following years until the technology is upgraded.

While many cities still use the traditional paper agenda packets, the cities of Osseo and St. Louis Park provide laptops for their council members on which to access council agendas, email and conduct other city business. Additionally, New Brighton recently purchased iPads for their council members.

 

Contact Mindy Mateuszczyk at mindy.m@ecm-inc.com

 
  • l barber

    so, what happens if a Dayton resident wants a copy of the council minutes? I don’t have an ipad….are you then going to copy and mail me the minutes as requested? I feel like this is also a way for the council to hide things that previously were public domain.

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