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Oldsmar City Council votes to go paperless with iPads

OLDSMAR — City Council has decided to go paperless, putting its lengthy meeting agendas onto iPads instead of printing them out — much to the chagrin of the mayor.

"It's really a tough pill for me to swallow," Mayor Jim Ronecker said jokingly. He owns a commercial printing business.

It's not that the mayor's company, On Demand Printing, prints out Oldsmar's meeting agendas. It doesn't. But Ronecker wisecracked that technology is putting him out of business.

Council members voted unanimously at Tuesday night's meeting to go paperless after they discussed several issues — such as whether the city or the council members should buy the iPads and whether council members should be able to conduct any personal business on the devices.

Buying five iPad 16GB tablets for the council would cost the city about $3,300, City Clerk Ann Stephan said. But making the switch will allow the city to save staff time and cut paper use by emailing the agendas and backup materials directly to council members, who could then access the documents on their iPads.

They'll bring the devices to council meetings. They'll also use the tablets to view city emails.

The mayor said he'd prefer that council members owned the iPads themselves. The $660 cost could be deducted over time from their city paychecks. Oldsmar council members earn an annual salary of $8,400.

But council member Linda Norris noted that they'd be requiring future council members to buy an iPad if they won election to the council.

In the end, they didn't settle that question.

They voted to go paperless and iron out the details later. City Manager Bruce Haddock said the city would go ahead and acquire five iPads. Some city staffers already use the devices.

City Attorney Thomas Trask advised the council not to do any personal business on their city iPads.

Stephan, the city clerk, estimated that an iPad could store 36 years' worth of council agenda packets.

Three hard copies of each council meeting agenda packet will still be printed and will be available for viewing at the Oldsmar Public Library and at council meetings.

Meeting agendas are also posted in advance on the city's website, myoldsmar.com.

As for the iPad, Tuesday night's vote left officials with just one more question. Council member Janice Miller asked, "Who's going to teach us how to use it?"

Mike Brassfield can be reached at brassfield@tampabay.com or (727) 445-4151. To write a letter to the editor, go to tampabay.com/letters.

Other business

Also Tuesday night, the Oldsmar City Council:

• Decided to send a letter to Gov. Rick Scott asking him to stop vetoing state funding for the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council, which Scott has done for the past two years.

• Dedicated the completed streetscaping project along St. Petersburg Drive, complete with a vehicle charging station for cars.

• Recognized 2012 National Merit Scholar Neil Mandal of Oldsmar, who attends Berkeley Preparatory School in Tampa. He's one of nine National Merit scholars this year in Pinellas County.

• Vice Mayor Jerry Beverland presented council member Janice Miller with an old photo of her and her husband that he bought on eBay.

Oldsmar City Council votes to go paperless with iPads 07/05/12 [Last modified: Thursday, July 5, 2012 7:49pm]
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