“I’ve been asking for us to do this for years,” Councilman Donnie Todd said.
At Thursday night’s council work session, instead of a stack of papers in front of the mayor and council, there were laptops.
“We have become high-tech since our last meeting,” Mayor Bill Hereford told those attending the work session. “Instead of spending a fortune on paper, we have gone to laptops.”
Thursday marked the first time the mayor and council used laptops to review and discuss issues facing the city, instead of with prepared documents.
“How many trees did we save tonight?” Councilman Donnie Guinn asked. “I’m glad Jennifer (Brown, the city clerk) got them up and going.”
Guinn, an assistant principal at Sylacauga High School, said he uses a computer for his job.
“I depend on one every day,” he said, adding that the transition from paper to computers is easy for him. “We just need to get everyone using them.”
City officials say the move from paper to computers will save the city money and time.
Councilman Greg Gossett held up a small stack of papers.
“This is 100 pages that we didn’t have to have here tonight,” he said. “I think this is a positive thing.”
Gossett said the transition from paper to computers was not difficult.
“I didn’t even tear it up,” Gossett joked. “It’s going to take a while to get used to it.”
He said about the only drawback is that it takes a little more time to pull up large documents or documents with multiple pages.
“Overall, I think it’s a good thing,” Gossett said.
Todd said the city’s move from paper to computers not only saves materials, such as paper and ink, but labor.
He said city workers are also not wearing out the printers, printing multiple copies of documents for work sessions.
Another important factor, city officials said, is the change makes public documents the council and mayor review when making decisions available for public inspection — at the same time it’s available to the council.
Todd said as soon as the city clerk gets a document related to a work session discussion, she will put the document on the city’s website, where the public can access it at the “council work session” tab. The work session and council agendas are also available on the city’s website at www.epell.net.
“I like it because I can review something maybe three days before the council work session, just by accessing our own website,” Todd said. “The public can see the same thing at the same time I’m seeing it.”
He said the bottom line is the city will provide the public with better access to public documents while saving money for the city.
“The cost savings — it’s huge,” Todd said.
Contact David Atchison at firstname.lastname@example.org.