Anja Tribble, staff assistant for the city of Steamboat Springs, typically recycles stacks of paper used to print Steamboat Springs City Council agendas from the most recent meeting. The city bought iPads for council members in an effort to cut down on waste and make the process of distributing agendas more efficient.

Photo by John F. Russell

Anja Tribble, staff assistant for the city of Steamboat Springs, typically recycles stacks of paper used to print Steamboat Springs City Council agendas from the most recent meeting. The city bought iPads for council members in an effort to cut down on waste and make the process of distributing agendas more efficient.

Steamboat Springs buys iPads for City Council members

City says devices will cut down on cost of paper meeting agendas



Anja Tribble, staff assistant for the city of Steamboat Springs, stands next to a stack of paper used to print City Council agendas. The city is moving to iPads, which are sitting on top of the stack and have been received positively by council members.

— After Tuesday’s Steamboat Springs City Council meeting, council member Kenny Reisman carried a stack of agendas more than a foot high and consisting of thousands of pages across the street to City Hall to be recycled.

He soon won’t have to do that.

As part of an effort to cut down on costs and materials, City Council members were provided second-generation iPads and used them for the first time Tuesday.

“The reality is it’s going to save us a lot of money from paper costs, printing and copying costs,” Reisman said. “We’re saving staff time. And we’re saving from a sustainability standpoint.”

City Clerk’s Office staff assistant Anja Tribble estimated she spends seven hours a month putting together the packets, which average 250 pages each. With seven council members and two meetings per month, that’s an average of 3,500 pages per month.

City Council President Cari Hermacinski said the council seated after the 2007 election set several goals during a workshop. One goal was going paperless.

Reisman said the idea came up again during a similar workshop last year. He said the City Council discussed the possibility of getting some kind of tablet and later settled on the iPad.

Anne Small, the city’s acting director of general services, said in an email that the city bought 10 iPads for $656 each for a total of $6,560. In addition to iPads for the seven council members, two were provided to the City Clerk’s Office and one was given to the Information Technology Department.

Small said the funds came from the 2011 document management capital improvements program budget.

Small calculated the annual savings of providing council members with iPads instead of paper agenda and meeting packets. According to estimates provided by Tribble, the city spends $400 a year on paper for the meeting packets, $500 on copying and printing and $2,100 in staff time. At $3,000 a year, it will take a little more than two years for the iPads to be paid for, city staff said.

Some City Council members will continue to receive paper packets until the kinks are worked out, and the city still will print three copies for the public, Tribble said. She said that council members are turning their iPads in after each meeting to get the next agenda uploaded but that soon they will be able to use them for other city business. Tribble said City Manager Jon Roberts also would receive an iPad.

The early returns from council members are positive.

Bart Kounovsky said iAnnotate, the application on the iPad used to access the council’s meeting packet, allows him to make notes in the margins or highlight a particular item, as he would on paper. He even can send immediate messages to city staff.

“I can basically do anything with the program I’m running,” he said.

After the July 5 meeting, Reisman said he was done with the paper packets. He said that it’s important to be sustainable and that this is just one way of living up to that goal.

“We have made this commitment to sustainability,” he said. “From our end, it’s about taking steps to walk the walk.”

— To reach Jack Weinstein, call 970-871-4203 or email


Troy Kuhl 5 years, 6 months ago

Well just another thing the city is spending money on that is not needed. Someone needs to just come in here a fire the entire City Hall. This town just keeps going farther down the crapper and all our government does is spend more money. As far as Steamboat being green, this is one of the hardest towns in the country to recycle in. Recycle center is closed on the weekends when normal people can go and one or two dumpsters put in town somewhere for the entire town to fill.


Scott Wedel 5 years, 6 months ago

I think it is a good thing that city government is using off the shelf technology to cut costs It is not just green to avoid printing 3,500 pages a month, that costs money.


rhys jones 5 years, 6 months ago

Just drop the word "sustainable" and any expense is justified.


Scott Wedel 5 years, 6 months ago

Rhys, Yeah, but just because someone adds "sustainable" to a good idea does not then make it a bad idea.

These iPads belong to the city and not the city council members so obviously they must be returned.

Presumably one of the reasons the city bought the iPads is because of open records requirements and so the city council can do job related work on city machines. So when city gets an open records request then it can respond without searching through the council's personal computers.


rhys jones 5 years, 6 months ago

Maybe I squawked a little too soon; I'm not saying it's a bad idea. It just caught my eye how they had to attach "sustainable" to sell it.

The article says they spent $656 each for "second-generation i-Pads" and I'm not sure if this means newer or recycled, but I just Googled new IPad 2's for $499.

The article doesn't mention who made the actual decision to purchase, but I WILL credit them one thing: At least they chose Apple, best hardware hands-down. Only Unix/Linux is capable of handling it; PC's are toys. The Real Geeks are buying Apples and upgrading them from their stock Unix to the even-more-powerful Linux. I yet aspire to such greatness; this Fujitsu came stock with Windows 7, which means it's inherently limited, pretty as it is. Sorry, baby, you do just fine. At least we dumped that buggy Windows and got Ubuntu going on.

I'm just jealous.


Brian Smith 5 years, 6 months ago

Highwaystar, The second generation is not recycled, it is the iPad2 which is just the second generation of iPad's. The $499 model is the 16GB model, with the price of $656, I would assume that they purchased either the 16GB with Wi-Fi for $629 (plus tax etc.) or the 32GB NON WiFi model for $599 (plus tax etc.), or something similar and received some kind of government discount. I would say that considering they are saving 3k a year in printing materials and the iPads pay for themselves in 2 years it's a pretty good move while being environmentally friendly.


Scott Wedel 5 years, 6 months ago

I'm interested in exactly why they are still printing 3 copies for the public. If they are to be used at the meeting then it'd seem possible to encourage the public to bring their own tablets or laptops to view the information and to maybe have a couple of secured loaners available.

Since the packet is available online then if someone absolutely needs a paper copy can always get one printed at one of the business stores.


rhys jones 5 years, 6 months ago

I mean really, are they designing space ships now? Maybe a new video game? Half the box would be more than they need; dare I say, Gates' gibberish can even do it, especially considering that obsolescence is the nature of computers, those boxes are throw-aways, and they will never be used for near their potential.


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