Can City Councils Go Paperless with iPads?

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iPad government in action in Williamsburg, VA. @Sangjib Min, AP

City councils across the country are adopting the iPad, in the hopes that the magical device can help them go paperless and save money, but taxpayers are skeptical of the savings.

The just-proposed scheme in Aurora, east of Denver,  is pretty typical: the city council there wants to try out iPads to see if it can save printing out the information packets for meetings. The city currently spends about $900 per member every year to print, assemble and deliver the info packets to the 10 council members and the mayor for a total of around $9,900.

They’ve budgeted $729 for the iPads plus $180 per year for data plans, so by using iPads they would break even in about a year.

Residents, however, don’t appear to buy it. Some 62% responded “You’re kidding me. What a scam. Like they read all that stuff anyway” to a poll in the Aurora Sentinal, just 36% responded “Why not? Saves trees, saves money. Go for it.”

That sentiment is echoed in Virginia Beach in the Hampton Roads, where 85% of the 1,000 readers to a local newspaper site said that the city government should not buy council members iPads to save paper.

If city governments want to adopt the iPad, maybe they should put their own money forward.

In Yuba City, California the council unanimously agreed to supply their own laptops or iPads for viewing the agendas.

“It’s not something that I can support, to spend money for an iPad, when we’re tying to look at every single dollar we can save,” said Mayor Kash Gill.

Sources: 9News, Hampton Roads, Fox40, Aurora Sentinel