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Council goes high tech to trim paper use

The city of Rosemount hopes equipping each of its city council members with iPads will cut down on paper use and on the time staff members spend putting together meeting packets.

Each Rosemount City Council member was equipped with one of the tablet computers at the beginning of the year.

"(The iPads) will more than pay for themselves in a year," said city administrator Dwight Johnson.

The cost of the five iPads was roughly $2,500. Johnson said the city should save at least that much in printing and delivery costs in the first year. Johnson anticipated each tablet will last at least three years.

The change should also result in a reduction in the labor it takes to put together meeting packets. Johnson said city staff spent about 20 hours a month printing and assembling the hundreds of pages. In the past the city paid to have the packets delivered to each council member the Friday before their meetings. That cost has been eliminated too.

The city council meets the first and third Tuesdays of the month. Additionally the council meets for a work session on the Wednesday between the council's two regular meetings. The meeting packets typically consist of more than 150 pages. While the council members still can request hard copies of individual documents, the iPads significantly reduce the amount of paper the city uses.

"We killed a lot of trees just getting packets out," said council member Matt Kearney.

For business minded folks, Johnson said the city will get a 78 percent return on their investment into the iPads.

"It's a huge rate of return," said Johnson.

Kearney was the first to receive an iPad late last year. He served as the guinea pig to get the tablet equipped with the right applications to best fit the council's needs.

"I think it's a great tool, more efficient and it saves an awful lot of paper," said Kearney of the switch.

Mayor Bill Droste said it has taken time to get used to using the device for meetings but now that he has it's a welcome change.

Emily Zimmer
Emily Zimmer has worked as a staff writer for the Rosemount Town Pages since 2007. She has a degree in journalism from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Outside of work, Emily enjoys running, reading and gardening. You can follow Emily's gardening adventures at the Areavoices blog East of Weedin'
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