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Ogdensburg City Hall trims paper use through tech

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OGDENSBURG — Just before he started work at the city’s helm, City Manager John M. Pinkerton was surprised by a long-established city staff task.

As he prepared for his first meeting as city manager last November, an Ogdensburg police officer came to his home a few days before to deliver a copy of the agenda.

Wow, he thought in disbelief.

“That was my reaction,” Mr. Pinkerton recalled 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 City Council no longer have their twice-monthly meeting agendas and weekly updates home-delivered to them by the police. Instead, all the data is electronicallytransmitted to their city-supplied, $399 apiece iPad tablets.

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

“I think it’s great,” said William D. Hosmer. “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, agrees.

“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 any where any time. I can save the updates and city information on the secure iPad.”

The iPad way, Ms. Stevenson added, 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. With paper, ink cartridges, envelopes, compiling and the $22.99 cost of an hour of the police patrolman’s services, the annual bill is $3,521.96. Electronically with less paper and no envelopes or police delivery the tab drops to $1,041.56.

“Savings is savings,” the city manager said, adding that he was especially pleased to be relieved of the $22.99 cost of an hour of police delivery 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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