Shorewood — Shorewood trustees are the latest governmental body to replace their thick paper meeting packets with digital documents.
The village board voted Monday, May 19, to purchase iPads to use at meetings, which it says would save money, reduce paper usage and make staff more efficient. The six iPads are estimated to cost roughly $2,000, which is less than the $2,500 that was budgeted.
Two trustees started using the iPads as part of a trial program in September. At the recommendation of the board's strategic initiatives committee, six new iPads will be purchased for the remaining five members as well as the village manager.
The committee recommended board members be trained on how to use the devices, so for $500 per year, the board will receive training and tech support services through Apple's Joint Venture program. The cost of the Joint Venture program will be offset by using credit card reward points to purchase some of the iPads.
Trustees who are less digitally savvy will be given time to transition to the new iPads. Trustees can request paper copies of the packets for the first two to three months to use in conjunction with the iPad.
The move to iPads would free up staff time, as Shorewood clerks prepare 12 village board meeting packets twice a month for seven trustees, two village attorneys, the village manager, clerk and a newspaper reporter. The packets average 130 pages, totaling 37,440 pieces of paper per year. A year's worth of packets are estimated to cost the village $870, not including manpower costs. The village clerk spends roughly three hours preparing the trustee packets, and it takes about a half hour for a police officer to deliver the packets to trustees' homes the Friday before the board meetings.
Bayside, Brown Deer, Saukville and Wauwatosa are some of the communities that have already made the transition to digital packets in recent years. Most communities prefer the iPad over other digital tablets because of the I-Annotate app, which includes the ability to handwrite notes using a stylus pen.
Although village board packets are already available online, trustees need a separate village-owned device to make notes or highlight the documents. Any electronic notes made on a personal computer, for example, would make that computer subject to the state's public records law.
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