Duluth councilors to vote on buying laptops for themselvesIt’s been seven years since the Duluth City Council voted to pursue going paperless and move into electronic filing.
By: Brandon Stahl, Duluth News Tribune
It’s been seven years since the Duluth City Council voted to pursue going paperless and move into electronic filing.
But look at a typical city councilor’s desk during any recent meeting, and it’s often filled with stacks of papers and files.
The council could vote today to spend nearly $290,000 to change that, with more than a third of that money going toward laptops to install a paperless agenda system and provide electronic voting; it also would outfit the council chambers with video-conferencing equipment and computer terminals to allow people who want to address the council to sign in.
The rest of the money would go toward replacing the carpet and windows in the chambers as well as the microphones and the audio/video system used by PACT-TV to broadcast council meetings. The city administration says the current broadcasting equipment is falling apart.
“The vast majority of this is a need,” Lisa Potswald, the city’s director of public administration, told the council Thursday. “If we want to continue being on TV, we need to replace this equipment. Anything could break at any point.”
Councilors said Thursday they understood the need to upgrade the audio/video equipment for PACT-TV, but some seemed reluctant to spend the money on the new computer system to go paperless.
Though the administration said the city would save about $2,000 a year in addition to staff members’ time, councilor Gary Eckenberg suggested that wasn’t enough to justify the cost, calling them “creature comforts.”
“I wonder if is better spent on air-conditioning this facility,” Eckenberg said of the $116,000 slated for computers.
“I’m struggling with the message it sends,” councilor Todd Fedora said. “We continue to spend money like it’s going out of style.”
Councilor Jeff Anderson, however, indicated that he supported the spending, noting that it was already budgeted for last year in the city’s Capital Improvement Budget.