The Duncan Banner
City Manager Jim Freida has a plan he thinks will improve the communication between the Duncan city council members and the city.
Possibly being approved at the city council meeting this evening is the purchase of six iPads, one for each of the city council members and one for the city manager.
With $5,564 required for the one-time purchase of the equipment and an additional $239.94 a month to cover the monthly air card charges that will provide on-the-go internet for the devices, the city is looking at approximately $8,443.92 for just the first 12 months of this equipment. The iPads were not planned for in this year’s fiscal budget, so Freida is proposing the money come from the Trails Project.
Freida said to cover the majority of the expenses, he is asking that the council plan to re-appropriate $7,500 from the trails project to be used for the purchasing of this technology.
“Funds that remain in that account will be transferred to be utilized for this,” Freida said.
Freida went on to say the money from the Trails Project would not be able to be used for this project during this fiscal year so no progress to the project would be hindered by this purchase. The Trails Project is currently on hold and Freida said the funds will be replenished during the next fiscal year to continue work on the project.
Freida believes this is a worthwhile purchase for the city as it will improve the dissemination of information of communication between the city council members and city staff. On a daily basis, he said he will use this to send out daily reports, enumerating activities that are planned for the day and occurrences with the city that have happened since the last report. He would also be use it to send the council agenda packets to members of the council and the city staff.
“This would help me communicate with them considerably,” Freida said. “It is a great tool for immediate notice on these types of things.”
As for communicating with the city, there is no current plan to purchase iPads for each city staff members that the council needs to communicate with. Instead, they will be able to access or provide any communication via their desktop computers.
To help the public rest easy, Freida stated the equipment would not be used for anything other than official business, with protection coming from the city’s information technology staff.
“These iPads are strictly for city business,” he said. “There will be no other apps.”
Although this could potentially be a more private way of conducting business, Freida stated that there would be no violation of either the Open Meeting Act or the Open Record Act. The council will continue to provide at least 24 hours notice to any hearing or regularly scheduled meeting and all information decided or discussed by the city council will be available to the public via a request from the city clerk even if it is information discussed between city council members on the iPad.
To date, the council’s primary method of information dissemination includes providing media sources with notices and results regarding council meetings. They also prepare a 40 to 50 page packet that is published, put in a three-ring binder and then either mailed or hand-delivered by the Duncan Police Department. If there are any changes, appropriate methods of updating the information have to be utilized including publishing updates or e-mailing updates to the packet.
Freida said that this purchase should improve the practicality and efficiency of the city, which he says will benefit the city council members, the city staff and indirectly, the public.
“This benefits the working members of the city council in conjunction with the city staff,” he said. “It is beneficial to the public. It is being done to promote the efficiency of the city. It is being utilized elsewhere. It would be in everyone’s best interest to use it now.”
If this motion is approved tonight, Freida plans to prepare the contract within the next seven days and then ask for the transfer of funds from the Trails Project at the next council meeting. He plans for the implementation of this technology within the next three weeks.