Featured Stories

Other Pamplin Media Group sites


Council goes paperless, choosing between iPads and Ultrabooks

It’s not the usual 4-3 split.

Lake Oswego City Council members are testing the city’s first effort to “go paperless” with meeting materials. While paper copies of agendas and packets will remain available for the public, the mayor and six councilors are now reviewing their materials in digital form.

Given the option to choose between an iPad and an HP Ultrabook, Mayor Kent Studebaker and Councilors Donna Jordan and Skip O’Neill opted for the HP laptops, while Councilors Karen Bowerman, Jon Gustafson, Jeff Gudman and Mike Kehoe chose iPads.

“There’s no way that anybody could put that group of (four) together,” Gudman said with a grin after the Jan. 22 council meeting, referring to frequent 4-3 council votes of a different makeup. “iPads win.”

The change hasn’t been without a few technological hiccups. For example, a councilor or two struggled to find power outlets to plug in draining batteries during a recent work session, and there are occasional struggles to keep an iPad propped up in the dock on its attached keyboard.

There are some documents, Gudman said, for which he’ll “never give up hard copies” — materials like the annual budget book. But for most packets he’s happy to have less paper to sift through.

“The core feature, of being able to call up the packet, being able to scroll through,” and being able to call up previous meeting materials, he said, “is going to be terrific.”

Software installed on the machines allows the council members to mark up their documents, highlighting excerpts and attaching sticky notes — just like they would with paper copies.

The aim to cut back on paper at council meetings began more than a year ago and can’t be attributed to a single champion, although former City Manager Alex McIntyre introduced the idea, City Recorder Catherine Schneider said.

Eliminating paper packets saves money not only on printing and supply costs but also staff time.

Before, packets were compiled, copied and hand-delivered to council members at home. That sometimes created workflow problems, as someone might have to wait longer than planned for the packets to be printed and ready to distribute.

In addition, ordinances and studies, often hundreds of pages long, might be copied multiple times over the course of a year. After being presented once, those sorts of documents are often attached to additional packets to provide background information at subsequent meetings.

Based on printing costs for last year’s meetings, city staff members believe going paperless will shave $3,000 from the council’s budget. The savings is expected to offset the cost of the new tablets and laptops.

“There was an initial investment, but we should make up for it fairly quickly,” Schneider said.

While paperless packets are still novel for the council as a whole, the concept isn’t new. Former Councilor Sally Moncrieff made the move to go paperless informally; she chose to access packets electronically last year.

The city’s IT department has handled any necessary troubleshooting, but so far the system seems to be running smoothly, Schneider said. Still, she noted council packets were pretty slim in January.

“We’ve heard nothing but ‘it’s fine’ so far,” Schneider said, “but February will be more of a test.”




Local Weather

Fair

74°F

Lake Oswego

Fair

Humidity: 50%

Wind: 8 mph

  • 25 Jul 2014

    Clear 79°F 55°F

  • 26 Jul 2014

    Sunny 83°F 56°F