12/19/10

Let There Be Less Paper

Mississippi Mills council committees rely on paper for meeting agendas and all supporting documentation. Some committees are paper-intensive. For example, agenda material for the December 2010 meeting of the Finance, Administration & Policy committee totalled 274 pages (half was the draft 2011 budget).

My goal is to eliminate most of the paper from Council business and increase productivity. Besides the environmental benefits of electronic documents, the Town could reduce paper costs. And, electronic documents are easy to store on a PC for later reference.

Before I attended my first meeting, I met with CAO Diane Smithson and Clerk Cindy Halcrow to ask them to provide all my material in electronic format. They agreed. I offered myself as a guinea pig to develop a system that other councillors could use when they choose to.

So far, town staff has been very good at making sure I get all the committee material in Word, Excel, or PDF format. With their help, I am developing a process to deliver electronic documents in a format that is word searchable and with the ability to add comments. (Current PDFs available from the Town’s website are images that are not searchable nor commentable.)

I have also asked that electric outlets be added to the Council chamber desks for our laptops. At present, I bring in an extension cord. If everyone on Council did that, we’d have a dangerous spaghetti of cords around the table.

Check back later for updates on this move to a paperless council.

2 comments:

Phil Warland said...

Good for you!! Couple things

1. I think all councillors should have a MM provided laptop.
2. All councillors should have a @mississippimills.ca email address.

Shaun McLaughlin said...

Phil,

I like the email address idea. I'll bring it to Council.

Some Lanark municipalities, such as Tay Valley, do give councillors new laptops each term loaded with software. It is too soon for MM. We need to get back-end procedures in place first, and I need to work with staff to prove the value of a paperless Council.