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Can iPads Save the Village Money Over Printed Paper?

Orland Park's village finance committee approved buying 11 iPad 2 computers to cut out the role of paper in board meetings.

Is a new age of technology dawning on the Orland Park Village Board of Trustees?

To digitally streamline sharing information and cut costs of printing packets, the village’s finance committee voted 3-0 on Monday to purchase new Apple iPad 2s for the village board, village clerk, village attorney and several village staff members.

Background: In this year’s budget, the village board approved a $3,000 upgrade for its data system, enabling the clerk’s office to move to paperless board agendas, according to a news release.

The original idea was to purchase only five iPad 2s as part of a trial period for select board members. Instead, the finance committee endorsed buying 11 iPad 2s at a cost of $5,490. Another $1,310 would be needed to buy a wireless access point and a Comcast business account.

Village staff have set aside $4,000 for this purchase, and the village would need to find another $2,800. This may require a “reduction in other minor purchases,” according to the same release.

Why should we care? Apple products are ideal for digital media creation, but it doesn't appear village board and staff will now make multimedia packages. And iPads are limited in that respect, compared to full Apple laptops. For viewing and storing documents, iPads are easy to handle and are made for reading, but they don't hold as much storage as laptops. The iPads in question could only store 16 gigabytes of data, whereas hard drives on most laptops start around 250 gigabytes.

Plus Apple products are expensive. A PC with sufficient software costs much less than a Mac and could be even cheaper when purchased in bulk. (See exhibit A and exhibit B)

And this is only the first round of purchases. For the fiscal year 2012 budget, the village is considering setting aside money for the purchase of new iPads for each department director.

Who has weighed in? Village Manager Paul Grimes said that iPads would save the village $3,600 a year in expenses, not including time, and vowed that iPads are cheaper than PCs.

“Your laptop is typically around $700 to $800, and that's a fairly basic one; some people tell me over a thousand," he said, noting that laptops also "get viruses" and that "their functionality is limited." Grimes said the trustees would use the iPads mostly for scrolling through documents, "like an iPhone."

Deputy village clerk Joseph LaMargo told the finance committee that the iPads would save him and his staff from reprinting and photocopying board materials if a mistake is discovered before any one of eight meetings held each month. However, he later noted that something like that happens rarely and that he generally only needs to add an attachment.

Grimes said even if laptops were preferred by the board, more would have to be bought for all members to switch to paperless agendas, and that the cost of getting more laptops for each board member is higher than getting iPads.

"And it's a little clunky when you could really go whole hog at least, and I use that term loosely, because the way technology evolves, who knows if it's really going to be that cutting edge three or four years from now," Grimes said. "But right now, the most seamless way to do it is through a wireless, through effectively a wifi capability, which we would have, we would install here in the board room."

Finance chairman Edward Schussler recommended that the committee endorse the full purchase of 11 iPads. Mary Klinger, MIS manager for the village, brought her own iPad to let the trustees peruse before the vote.

The village would provide training in-house, LaMargo said. Trustee Carole Griffin Ruzich said she already has an iPad. She and any other trustees with iPads would be able to use their own. The remaining unused iPads would be given to village staff, Grimes said.

What’s next? The issue goes before the full Village Board of Trustees on June 20 for consideration. If approved, the iPads could arrive as early as August.

Donna Brazas-Reynolds June 07, 2011 at 12:48 PM
I think moving to iPads or general tablet devices (not computers, as noted in the tagline) is a great idea. The typical functions outlined in the article don't require a full computer to be purchased. As an educator, only four of us in one department using iPads to disseminate information drastically cut down on our copying output for the department. It's cost-saving, and it's an environmentally sound choice. Add to that, Apple has always been a company that considers the environment in production and recycling. This decision fits perfectly with Orland's move to a "greener" village.
Arthur Huff June 07, 2011 at 03:37 PM
Technology is a great thing. And depending on how much paper they go through on a weekly basis this move would probably save some money over the course of a couple years, not to mention the environmental benefits. But how about doing something that will save paper AND money, like putting the paperwork online for the Village officials to view where ever and whenever they want? The Village has a website, why can't they put these documents in a secure area on that site in pdf form or something? Paper problem solved! And $5000 on iPads problem solved!
Daniel June 08, 2011 at 01:17 PM
Why are the taxpayers paying for the iPads? Why don't the Trustees in the Village buy the iPads themselves. They will only use them twice each month for board meetings and then everyday for themselves. $5,000 is too much money plus the costs of the Internet for each.

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