Smyrna Town Council may go paperless depending on the findings of research to be done by the town’s IT staff.
Council member’s approved a motion at the June 16 meeting that will have town staff look into the possible savings the town could see if they stop printing council packets and agendas.
Town Manager Dave Hugg said a couple members of council have inquired about not printing council packets and agenda for meetings. He said DEMEC went a similar route last year in which it stopped printing documents, and bought board members IPads where they would receive all their information.
“When we go to the meetings, everything is done electronically,” Hugg said. “It saved a great deal of paper but also made it possible to send the latest versions of documents as they evolved.”
Hugg said town staff have looked into the possibility of going paperless; however, there have been some issues with costs and connectivity issues. He said with the DEMEC process, Hugg believed the cost to be $1,000 for each board member and a $5,000 one-time purchase for the software.
Councilman John Embert was one of the council members who asked to see the item on the agenda.
“I’m not a tree hugger but we go through countless pages, ungodly amounts, on top of the fact that we’re having staff prepare all of our packets,” Embert said. “We’re paying staff to prepare the packets.”
Councilwoman Andrea Rodriguez thinks the idea of going paperless is a good idea, as the amount of paper used was a concern from the start of her term last year. However, Rodriguez suggested taking advantage of the projector in council chambers rather than buying IPads for council members. Embert agreed and suggested council agendas not be printed and instead be put up on the projector.
Embert clarified his proposal, stating he wasn’t recommending council buy IPads but rather to have the IT department research the possibility of sending council packets electronically. Embert also said the suggestion may have to wait until next year since the project could be expensive.
“Hopefully we can get the ball rolling to cut costs,” Embert said.
Mayor Joanne Masten said potential costs of going paperless are a cause of concern for her.
“I have five laptops at home, I can’t consciously have council buy me an IPad,” Masten said. “Especially when I have a year left on council.
Embert said the IPads would be for the position, not the actual person in the council seat.
Councilwoman Valerie White pointed out that documents could just as easily be emailed to each member of council and then if a council member chooses to print out a document they can.
“I don’t know why we have to ask James [Markow] to spend time researching this and ask him to take time away from whatever else he has to do to spend time researching this right now,” White said. “Everything here could’ve been scanned and emailed to us before we came here tonight.”
Eventually council voted 5-1 to have the IT department research that matter.