Burr Ridge looks to cut paper costs with tablets

Burr Ridge officials will be turning to tablets in an effort to lessen the amount of paper the village uses in providing information to elected leaders and department heads.

The 12 Microsoft Surface Pro 3’s, being purchased for Village Board members and department heads at a cost of $10,860, are expected to pay for themselves in one to two years depending on how much officials opt for electronic documents instead of paper ones.

Village Board members unanimously approved the measure at their meeting this week. Trustee John Manieri was absent from the meeting.

“This does not have to be an all or nothing proposition,” Finance Director Jerry Sapp told board members.

He noted individuals can determine what documents they would like electronically and what documents they would still like to get in paper form. Sapp said the overall goal is a reduction in paper document costs, not for the village to be 100 percent paperless.

Trustees Guy Franzese and Diane Bolos both said hard copies of the budget would be helpful because of the size of the document. Franzese also said the village’s Planning Commission packets, which include detailed drawings of proposed projects, would also be better to have on paper.

“My company has moved to paperless and they have tried to make everything paperless,” Franzese said. “(Planning documents) wind up like funny, little drawings. It has been a failure.”

Doug Pollock, community development director, said applicants are required to provide project drawings so there is no cost for the village to provide those on paper.

Sapp said when paper stock, toner and equipment maintenance are taken into account, it costs the village 8 cents per page to provide paper documents for officials. One set of Village Board documents averages $86, he said. That equates to $795 for each person annually and $3,183 for an elected official’s four-year term.

For the 12 board members and department heads, those paper costs equate to $8,242 annually or $32,900 for a four-year term.

Sapp said he has been researching tablets for the past couple years and feels the Surface Pro 3’s will be the most beneficial for village officials.

Trustee Al Paveza said the ability to get older information will be greatly enhanced by going to the tablets. He said village officials have had to rely on certain individuals who knew where archived information is stored.

With the tablets, “it won’t take long at all to retrieve things,” Paveza said.

Village officials could be using the Surface Pro 3’s as soon as late September, according to Village Administrator Steve Stricker.

“The village will save money. These will pay for themselves,” Stricker said.

He noted the cost-saving for the village does not take into account the manpower reduction. Village Clerk Karen Thomas spends several hours the Friday before board meetings compiling the packets for village officials.

Stricker said manpower savings will not show up in the village budget because “we are not laying off anyone because of it.”

The village administrator said there will be training provided for elected officials and the transition to the village being more paperless will be gradual. He said staff will work with trustees until they feel comfortable using the new technology.

“We are not going to cut the cord right away,” Stricker said, “but I believe (the tablet system) is the way to go.”

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