City council approves purchase of iPads

by TaLeiza Calloway –

The St. Joseph City Council will join the paperless revolution after a recent vote to invest in technology.

Elected officials voted April 4 to purchase iPads as part of an effort to save paper and money. The vote was unanimous to trade in paper council packets for digital ones.

The city will pay about $2,700 for the transition that includes the cost of the devices and setting up email accounts for elected officials. Copying paper packets and staff time costs between $3,500 and $4,000 per year, according to city documents.

Each council member will be issued an iPad. The change means council-meeting packets will be emailed to each member. Staff is currently working on setting up the email accounts. City Administrator Judy Weyrens told officials packets containing information about the city budget and tax levy will be printed. With the city’s Laserfische system, staff already sees a reduction in paper use, she said.

Council member Steve Frank asked about using his personal iPad during the transition and if he’ll have access to city documents that would be available on the city-issued devices. Weyrens said he could use his personal device if he chose to do so. She also told officials the transition to electronic packets is not a requirement.

“Copying the packet is an option,” Weyrens said. “If someone doesn’t want to move forward, they don’t have to. It’s just a matter of getting used to it.”

Council member Bob Loso said he would need some training on how to use the iPad and apps city officials would possibly use. The iPads provided to council members are for conducting city business. The devices purchased for officials will have the city’s software downloaded on it so city documents are readily accessible. One iPad will also be purchased for staff use.

The city is one of several area cities to make the electronic conversion. The cities of St. Cloud, Sauk Rapids, Sartell and St. Augusta have also chosen to eliminate paper council packets. During the meeting, Weyrens told council members the city of St. Augusta spent about $5,000 to purchase laptops for council members.

TaLeiza Calloway

TaLeiza Calloway is a professional journalist in Central Minnesota. Her byline has appeared in the St. Cloud Times and Central Minnesota Women Magazine. The Ohio native moved to Minnesota about four years ago. She joined the St. Joseph Newsleader staff as a reporter in November 2011.
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