Councilman says he won’t accept iPad for meeting use 

The Redwood City City Council is going paperless, but has received criticism from one of its own regarding the use of new iPads.

Councilman Ian Bain said he will not accept an iPad, believing it would give off a bad impression.

“It didn’t dawn on me that people would think I was getting toys for the city — I meant it to be a business tool,” Mayor Jeff Ira said. “I thought it was a good and practical idea, but I guess some don’t see it that way.”

Introducing iPads for use at City Council meetings is not only better for the environment but it will save about half a council position. By eliminating paper, the city will cut approximately $1,200 per meeting in copying costs and staff time needed to create agenda packets, city spokesman Malcolm Smith said. Based on the City Council meeting 30 times a year, that translates to a potential savings of $36,000.

“Under these challenging times, we are looking at every possible way to be efficient monetarily,” Smith said. “The iPads will pay for themselves in approximately six council meetings; it is a good investment.”

In addition to cutting costs, iPads would allow council meetings to run more efficiently. Ira now relies on his laptop, as his office is already completely paperless, but said iPads would be hugely beneficial for council meetings.

“We need to learn how to use technology to work better and more efficiently,” Ira said. “The iPad runs circles around my laptop in terms of reading information.”

Ira said the city plans to purchase three iPads to be tested by City Manager Peter Ingram, City Clerk Silvia Vonderlinden and City Attorney Pamela Thompson. While the City Council approved a $6.1 million budget cut Monday, which includes eliminating 15 filled positions, the cost of the iPads, about $600 each, will be funded using capital improvement funds, which are set aside for equipment and projects.

While the funding will not be coming from the general fund, which the city has been cutting, Councilman Bain sees the introduction of iPads as terrible timing.

“It doesn’t make a difference where the funds are coming from, it just gives a bad impression,” Bain said. “I’m all in favor of going digital and saving paper, but it just comes across the wrong way right now.”

Also approved at Monday’s meeting was a policy on the use of technology and computer hardware, which prohibits council members from texting and accessing the Internet or personal e-mail during meetings.

 

Going paperless

 

The Redwood City City Council is trying to cut costs by using iPads for meetings instead of agendas printed on paper.

10 Full agenda packets per meeting

$1,200 Total savings per meeting

30 Meetings a year

$36,000 Total yearly savings for going paperless

$7,000 Total cost for eight to 10 iPads

Source: Redwood City

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