Tough city council votes — is there an app for that?
The San Carlos City Council recently received iPads and while Siri won’t be stepping up to pass final votes on park renovations or the controversial Transit Village, the technological move is meant to save money and cut down on printing
“It’s great. It’s better than lugging all that paper around,” said Councilwoman Karen Clapper.
Clapper has a two-drawer file cabinet at home to store council-related paperwork like budgets and general plans and said it’s an effort to weed the amount down to fit. With her iPad 4 in hand now she looks forward to a future without the challenge.
“Now I won’t have to worry about, ‘Where did I put that paper?’” she said.
Easy access to current agendas and even past paperwork was a driving reason for the purchases, said City Manager Jeff Maltbie.
Speed of delivering agenda packets and costs were another. Maltbie said the costs of the iPads were around $5,500, just shy of the roughly $6,000 spent annually on printing packets that average 300 pages.
Each device is outfitted with a software package that allows users to annotate and write notes.
Maltbie said the Planning Commission might eventually be next in line for the tablets since its work is also paper intensive but nothing is planned at this time.
The five councilmembers received the gadgets a few weeks back so they could be trained by the city clerk and get comfortable before using them the first time at last Monday night’s meeting.
“It’s kind of cool,” said Councilman Ron Collins although he said he’s finding some glitches with attachments.
Mayor Bob Grassilli joked that Collins had trouble finding the plug on his iPad at the meeting.
“It only has four sides,” he said.
Collins also concedes still liking to read his packet on paper. Councilman Matt Grocott said the same. A self-professed fan of writing notes in book margins, Grocott said he’s using a “hybrid” method of iPad and paper.
Grassilli is also not an immediate convert to the iPad — “I like turning the pages” — but said it’s mainly because he hasn’t had time to sit down and figure it all out.
“It’s just a matter of getting acclimated. If I were in the working world I’d have been acclimated a long time ago. All of this fancy-schmancy stuff is becoming commonplace and hey, it pays for itself in the first year,” Grassilli said.
San Carlos’ adoption also follows similar iPad adoption by other governmental bodies like the Redwood City Council.
Not every San Carlos councilmember was new to the iPad.
Vice Mayor Mark Olbert uses both a Surface and iPad and will use his personal device for council business rather than accepting one from the city.
Clapper is also familiar, having an iPad mini, but admitted keeping a backup plan for notes at the last council meeting. She slipped the iPad into her notebook folio and thought of pulling out the paper so that she quit “cold turkey.”
But at the last minute, Clapper said she chickened out.
And did she need paper after all?
“Not at all,” she said.
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