AUGUSTA — City councilors voted Thursday night to provide iPads to councilors who want them, while still delivering printed documents to those councilors not willing to give the printed word up in exchange for electronic communications.

At-Large Councilor Marci Alexander proposed the city consider providing electronic tablets to councilors as a more efficient and flexible way to provide and share city documents now included in printed packets provided to councilors nearly every week.

She said doing so will allow councilors to obtain city documents more easily, including ones distributed during prior discussions. She said she was concerned about councilors using their own electronic devices for city business in part because of the need to comply with public records and freedom of access laws.

Councilors voted 7-1 to authorize City Manager William Bridgeo to provide iPads to councilors who request them, “for the purpose of facilitating the electronic distribution and use of council materials and communication.”

At-Large Councilor Jeffrey Bilodeau was the lone dissenting vote. He said he would support switching to tablets or staying with printed documents, but he didn’t want to do both, which he said would be a waste of taxpayer money.

Councilors’ printed packets, which can contain legal and time-sensitive documents, are delivered to their homes by police, in part to be sure councilors get them.

The adopted order will not change how the printed council packets are distributed. It will only provide the devices to councilors who wish to use them.

Last week, councilors discussed the proposal and several had concerns with going all-electronic and no longer providing them with printed documents.

Mayor David Rollins, whose nickname is Big Dave, said the generally small electronic devices are too hard for someone of his size to use easily.

Rollins and Ward 4 Councilor Anna Blodgett also expressed concerns about councilors looking at electronic devices during council meetings.

Blodgett said she’s seen school board meetings during which board members, who have had iPads provided to them for about four years, are looking at their devices. “It seems rude and impersonal,” she said last week. “I just think face-to-face is better.”

Alexander and At-Large Councilor Dale McCormick expressed interest in having city-provided iPads for their use in city business.

At-Large Councilor Cecil Munson said he already has one, and he would just use his. He said he already has the weekly council packet sent to him electronically.

Bridgeo said whether councilors who get iPads also still will receive paper council packets will be up to those individual councilors.

The weekly printed packets of information that police officers now drive to councilors’ homes will continue to be delivered to councilors who elect to stay with the paper packets.

Alexander said there is no need for police to deliver printed packets to her home.

Bridgeo noted police don’t generally make a special trip to deliver council packets; they deliver them as part of their regular patrols in the city.

Fred Kahl, the city’s director of information technology, recommends the city buy Apple iPads because of their cost and ease of use and repair.

He said the model best suited for councilors’ likely needs would be the iPad Air 2, which he said would cost around $340 per tablet. He also recommended adding a case and Bluetooth keyboard, for another $50 per unit.

Bridgeo said a number of Maine municipalities now provide such devices to their elected officials and share agendas and other documents with them, while others continue to distribute printed agendas and other documents.

The money to buy iPads for councilors will come from a council contingency account, for which $10,000 was included in the budget. Bridgeo said there is enough money in that account now to buy iPads or other devices for their use.

Keith Edwards — 621-5647

[email protected]

Twitter: @kedwardskj

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.