Hatboro Council Discusses Going Paperless

Using iPads or laptops to store borough documents could save Hatboro $800 to $1,000 a year in printing costs, an official said.

Hatboro Borough Councilman Bill Tompkins has four drawers full of borough documents – and that’s after periodic shredding.

Papers from the routine one-quarter-inch-thick packets add up, Tompkins said during this week’s capital budget meeting. His solution? Consider switching to an electronic format for delivery of government-related paperwork.

In the end, Tompkins estimated that the council’s transition to iPads, or laptops - which he estimated would cost about $1,000 per person - could be a time-saver for borough staff charged with putting together 14 copies of borough packets for the council’s twice-monthly meetings. Other communications, including budget reports, are printed out 12 times a year, Tompkins said, adding that it would make more sense to have it in an Excel spreadsheet so corrections could be made easier and without wasting paper.

Assistant Borough Secretary Diane Hegele said she uses about 5,000 sheets of paper every two weeks putting together packets for the seven-member council, mayor and borough professionals.

At that rate, Tompkins estimated that Hatboro could save between $800 and $1,000 a year in printing-related costs.

But, Council President John Zygmont pointed out that a paper-free approach would cost the borough in up-front expenses.

“There’s going to be training on some people that are sitting up here because they’re not as functional on all this stuff as you are,” Zygmont said. “This isn’t the time to sit here and think if we’re going to do it or not.”

The Horsham Township Council spent $3,700 in June to purchase five iPads for use and storage of government documents. The move is expected to save $1,000 a year, Horsham officials have said. 

Zygmont said it would be fine to receive his packet by email. In all likelihood he would print out 75 percent of it for easier reading because he sees no need to pay for new technology.

“I don’t want an iPad, iPod, any of that crap,” Zygmont said. “I don’t have a laptop. I can read stuff on my phone.”

Do you think Hatboro officials should consider going paperless? Tell us in the comments. 

jenortip September 19, 2012 at 11:17 AM
I was disappointed to find that my ipad would not open Microsoft spreadsheets and run my Quickbooks software. PDF's work ok. Buyer beware.
website still broke September 19, 2012 at 11:18 AM
They want iPads? I thought Hegele said the website would be fixed by "early September"? Today is September 19. They should finish the website before starting a new technology project.
Dolores Forget September 19, 2012 at 11:33 AM
Better look into the functionality of an i-pad or tablet --- it does not perform many of the functions one would use a laptop for.
Jerry Boggs September 19, 2012 at 12:35 PM
You but 4 I- pads it takes 4 years to break even but you have to update your I- pad every 2 to 3 years?
Horsham Dad September 19, 2012 at 01:15 PM
You didn't know that before you bought it? they do have compatible software that will open your Microsoft documents, it's called "pages" and "numbers"
Horsham Dad September 19, 2012 at 01:18 PM
Not necessarily, if they're only using it for documents there's really no need to update to newer ones, (but knowing local government they will think they have to)
that's confusing September 19, 2012 at 02:29 PM
14 copies of packets twice a week is no surprise. I'm all for saving paper, but in no way is it a cost-effective solution to purchase laptops for the seven council members, the mayor, the Borough manager, the Borough solicitor, the head of public works, the Borough secretary, etc. ad nauseum.
Gerda September 19, 2012 at 04:31 PM
The Boro Manager and head of PW are the same person - Fred Zollers. Then there's the technological updates and maintenance to be done the laptops - who will do that and at what cost? Where's the new and improved Boro website that Hegele promised? Taxpayers are paying for it! I see ANOTHER tax increase for 2013 ... laptops, Woodwinds bailout, whatelse are they planning?
Jolene September 19, 2012 at 04:57 PM
Why don't we check first to see how many council members have laptops? I bet many of them are using home or office equipment for Boro communications anyway. Why should taxpayers pay for expensive new equipment that only requires Boro use for 4-8 hours per month? Where will the iPads be when they're not being used for Council business? I agree with what Zigmont says: Boro staff do not seem have the expertise to handle advanced technology: can't even maintain a very simple website, thinks they need $6000 for a new website when one can be put up for free in a few hours using WordPress. Six months later, we still don't have that new website. Why? What's up with that? Make use of the resources taxpayers are already paying for, then we'll see if you can handle an upgrade!
gerta is misinformed September 19, 2012 at 07:34 PM
why do you consistently take jabs at hegele the website is not the only job she does and if you are referring to the councilman give it up one newsletter done another one on the way an updated and informative communith channel and a new website in nine months he has done more than the prior council could do in four years kudos to council and mr. hegele
FooKing Funny September 19, 2012 at 08:03 PM
GIM - it's Gerda not Gerta. Your proficiency in sentence structure, grammar, spelling and punctuation is sorely lacking.
that's confusing September 19, 2012 at 08:04 PM
He was named the interim Borough Manager - so there may or may not be a second laptop in play if council eventually hires someone else for the job. But if you want to split hairs - I forgot to mention Chief Gardner.
Jolene September 19, 2012 at 08:51 PM
No one cares about the newsletter. It's a political hurray-for-us piece. Everyone wants that website up and running with the information people need from the Boro rather than bother the ladies up front who seem to have so very much to do. Again, websites take only a few hours to get up and running. OK, with a design firm you guess you need: 2-4 weeks tops. What's the story, mis informed?
911down September 19, 2012 at 09:47 PM
I had to use the borough website today and it actually helped me when 911 was down and I needed the Hatboro police but could not get through to them when I called 911 and when I called 675-4400. The website had information on where to call. Thank you Hatboro for being proactive and getting the word out. Good job.
website still broke September 19, 2012 at 09:50 PM
I was talking about the councilman. In a Patch story from this summer I thought it was councilman Hegele who said the website would be ready by early September. If not him anothe councilman promised this. Promise broken. Anyone wanna bet when it gets done? The over-under is October 15.
website September 19, 2012 at 10:15 PM
Two years ago I created a website for a non-profit in Berks County. It took less than one week to develop, and I was working on it only three or four hours a day. Today's software allows you to create a website without writing code, so this is an easy job. I logged on to the borough website and it says there are "techincal issues" that have prevented the posting of meeting minutes for one year. Really? It takes a year to fix the problem? Why can't the minutes be posted to the front page? The front page is where the meeting agenda is posted, so it looks like there are no technical issues there.
website September 19, 2012 at 10:18 PM
If council cant do the little things right, like fixing the web site, do you have confidence they can do the big stuff right? Rudy Guiliani was able to clean up NYC because he focused on the little things and built up successes from there. It is called the broken windows theor.
Liberty 1 September 19, 2012 at 11:38 PM
Stick with the paper. Can't you people ever discuss a problem without getting all huffy about it? Yes, they do need a website with real information. Does anybody know if there is access to the Borough codes? I would love to have the ability to reference it instead of being spied on by the little old man who drives around. A little common sense and an effort to help the fine citizens of Hatboro will go a long way. By the way John Z - Your elegant portrayal of Apples finest products brought a smile to my face!
Liberty 1 September 19, 2012 at 11:38 PM
Liberty 1 September 19, 2012 at 11:40 PM
It's the Goverment stupid!!!! (Not calling you stupid - just paraphrasing Carville)
Liberty 1 September 19, 2012 at 11:41 PM
FF - you may be right - but HE DEFINATELY IS!!
James Kephart Jr. September 19, 2012 at 11:48 PM
On paper - it looks good. In reality, it will cost more then the chump change in savings they are talking about.


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