County ponders iPads

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Hillsboro City Administrator Larry Paine touted the benefits of using technology to prepare for meetings Monday while speaking with Marion County Commission.

Paine told the commission about Hillsboro City Council’s use of Apple iPad tablet computers in place of paper agenda packets. He said the switch to electronic agendas has saved paper and staff time putting the packets together and delivering them to council members.

“That process is costing you about $15,000 a year,” Paine said.

After the meeting, County Clerk Tina Spencer said some of Paine’s assumptions about the county’s time and effort preparing for the meetings may have been inaccurate.

Paine estimated 16 staff hours per week with a pay rate of $15 per hour for the county. Spencer said her office spends closer to two staff hours each week on the packets, although she couldn’t say how much time department heads spend making copies for commissioners’ packets. But Spencer said she liked the idea of using electronic agenda packets because it would cut a lot of paper waste.

Paine also demonstrated the file system Hillsboro City Council uses to distribute its agenda, an online application called Dropbox. The program is essentially an online hard drive, allowing users to upload and retrieve files.

“You don’t need an iPad to do what I’ve just shown you,” Paine said. “If you do nothing with iPads, you should be dealing with that part of the agenda process.”

The City of Hillsboro has equipped each council member with an iPad. Paine estimated the county could purchase iPads for $610 or $739, depending on the model, plus $40 per month for a wireless data plan for each tablet.

Paine made his presentation at the request of Commissioner Roger Fleming.

Huffman proposes commercial kitchen

Economic Development Director Teresa Huffman said she had run into a dead end trying to get a certified commercial kitchen opened in Burns. People starting a food business could use such a kitchen to make their goods for sale. Renting space for limited times would be cheaper than building a certified kitchen for business start-ups, Huffman said.

With the project in Burns sidelined, Huffman proposed converting one of the kitchens in the county lake hall into a certified kitchen. She wanted the commission’s go-ahead to apply for grants that could help pay for the remodeling. Huffman said she would also recommend hiring a half-time employee to manage and publicize such a kitchen.

Commission Chairman Randy Dallke said he wanted a week to think about the proposal. Huffman said she would begin grant paperwork in case the commission approves the plan.

In other business:

  • The commission met in closed session for 25 minutes, including five minutes with Spencer, to discuss personnel. No action was taken on return to open session.
  • The former county landfill has a few areas of exposed waste that need to be covered again, Environmental Health Director Tonya Richards said. Road and Bridge Department should be able to do the work, the commission told her.
  • Two remodeling projects in the Health Department building will cost $6,345.

 

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