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Ogdensburg City Council goes paperless

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OGDENSBURG — As he prepared to take the helm as city manager, John M. Pinkerton was surprised by a long-established practice.

A few days before his first City Council meeting last November, an Ogdensburg police officer came to his home to deliver a copy of the agenda.

Wow, he thought in disbelief. “That was my reaction,” Mr. Pinkerton said Friday. “I got a police officer delivering the mail to me.”

No more. Mr. Pinkerton, Mayor William D. Nelson and all six members of the council no longer have their twice-monthly meeting agendas and weekly updates home-delivered to them by the police. Instead, all of the information is electronically transmitted to their iPad tablets, supplied by the city at $399 apiece.

The councilors have been paper-free since February, and they love it.

“I think it’s great,” Councilor William D. Hosmer said. “I like it electronically because I’m always on the go. It saves the city money.”

Councilor Jennifer Stevenson, pointing to the bulky, agenda-crammed three-ring binders in her office, agreed.

“I find that the electronic access to my city update is much easier, economical and more secure,” she said. “In the past, a packet would be delivered every Friday. That involved the time of a city police officer and a person to make all the packets. Now, I can access my update and other information anywhere, anytime. I can save the updates and city information on the secure iPad.”

The iPad way, Ms. Stevenson said, is convenient and environmentally friendly.

“It is then accessible and easier to search if during a meeting I need additional information,” she said. “I can also answer questions for city residents more timely as the information is with me if I am at home or even away at a conference. We are also being more green-friendly by not using as much paper and gas to deliver the packets.”

Mr. Pinkerton concedes that the savings are modest, about $2,500 a year.

“Savings is savings,” the city manager said, adding that he was especially pleased to spare the $22.99-an-hour cost of police officers’ time.

“They’re being taken away from doing their jobs,” Mr. Pinkerton said.

Planning and Development Director Andrea L. Smith is also going electronic with the agendas, staff reports, meeting minutes and resolutions for the Planning Board and the Zoning Board of Appeals.

“I think it’s really worked out well,” she said.

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