The Village of Burns Lake is going paperless, at least where the majority of their council meeting agendas are concerned.
A report written by Stephanie Beerling village director of corporate services, recommended councillors implement the switch to paperless agendas by March 2012.
Councillor Frank Varga has already been using his personal Apple iPad to view council agenda packages and he said, “I think it is a great way to go. It’s very efficient and my iPad is light to carry around. I don’t have to carry a binder and I use email as my primary mode of communication. A lot of places in town have WiFi so you can access your emails. I know the Burns Lake Public Library and the Subway does. It is definitely the way to go and would be a definite financial benefit for the village. It would also reduce our carbon footprint.”
Mayor Luke Strimbold and each of the four councillors, including Coun. Varga, will receive a one time payment of $500 towards the purchase of an electronic device such as an iPad.
Village chief administrative officer Sheryl Worthing said to Lakes District News, “As Coun. Varga already owns an electronic device that is capable of receiving Village documents, he will receive a one time amount of $500 and will be expected to use his personal device at all village meetings, events, and conferences.”
The initial purchase of the electronic devices will cost tax payers $2,500, but Beerling said it will save approximately $2,607 per year in printing costs.
She also said that in camera agendas will still be provided to council in print form, to minimize any technical errors that could expose confidential information to the public.
The annual costs of printing in camera agendas is $247.
She said going paperless will increase efficiency because council members will have immediate access to their agendas.
Paper copies of the regular and special meeting agendas will still be available to members of the public to ensure access and availability of the documents, as per the village’s procedure bylaw.
“Printing public agendas costs approximately $354 per year. There are a number of organizations and individuals who currently receive electronic copies of village agendas by email and we will continue to encourage those who regularly attend meetings to utilize their electronic copy to help us reduce our carbon footprint and expenses,” said Worthing.
According to the report, the current cost of a 64 gigabyte iPad with WiFi capabilities is $719.
Based on ease of use, Beerling recommends councillors use the $500 towards the purchase an Apple iPad.
However, both Coun. Susan Schienbein and Coun. Quentin Beach were not as excited about the proposed changes, voting against the motion to go paperless.
As the vote was tied due to Coun. Varga and Coun. John Illes supporting the motion, Mayor Strimbold cast the deciding vote, opting to go paperless.
Councillor Schienbein, who referred to herself as ‘the old dog around the [council] table’ said she would have difficulty reading the agendas if they were not in a print format.
“I have a problem with reading electronic documents and I end up printing them out anyway. While I do have enthusiasm for going paperless, I just don’t see it happening for me. I know I will just end up printing them out at home,” she said.
Councillor Beach asked Mayor Strimbold if, as a result of the motion, he would still be able to obtain a paper copy of the agenda.
Mayor Strimbold said, “No, you are now going paperless and you are going to be using an electronic device.”
Councillor Beach then asked if he could use his $500 allotment towards paying for printed agendas.
“No, you have to go paperless,” said Mayor Strimbold. Beerling added that councillors will be expected to be paperless as of March 2012.
“So the intention of the motion is that we are all forced to buy electronic devices,” asked Coun. Beach.
“We are encouraging you to move with the times, you will get used to it,” added Mayor Strimbold.
Beerling said that the first three pages of the agenda will still be printed out so councillors can follow along with the agenda, in conjunction with their electronic device.
“Staff will have their lap tops on the [council] table too,” said Strimbold, adding that staff will also be viewing paperless agendas during council meetings.