Steamboat Springs buys iPads for City Council members
City says devices will cut down on cost of paper meeting agendas
September 8, 2011
Steamboat Springs — 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.
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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 jweinstein@SteamboatToday.com