NYA Council may go paperless

The proliferation of technological tools such as iPads, smart phones and similar devices in recent years has brought about increased opportunities that individuals, schools and some cities have found beneficial in terms of cost savings and efficiency.

Norwood Young America could soon be added to the list of local cities that have gone paperless, as council members discussed the option for the first time during their meeting on Monday, Aug. 13.

Specifically, the council heard a report from city staff on the potential cost savings and practicality of forgoing the printing and assembly of paper information packets for the council and instead purchasing a set of iPads and associated software that would be distributed to council members for their terms in office.

City staff estimated that the cost to produce paper packets, assemble and deliver them over the course of a year totals about $3,060. On the other hand, purchasing seven iPads at a cost of $399 each for council members and staff — along with accompanying keyboards, PDF software that would allow council members to make notes on the packets, and warranties — was about $4,488.59.

In short, the city would begin to see a cost savings after about a year and a half of use.

While the council did not take action to approve the switch to paperless packets during the meeting, a majority council members seemed to be favorably disposed toward the possibility. Mayor Tina Diedrick had originally proposed the idea, and councilors Dick Stolz and Carol Lagergren voiced support for the proposal during the meeting.

There are no funds in this year’s budget to proceed with the purchase of equipment, but the council could direct staff to provide for that expenditure in the 2013 budget if it deems the change beneficial. If council members decide to act sooner, staff could also research the current budget to find potential sources of funding.

Elsewhere in Carver County, the cities of Victoria and Carver have already gone paperless and adopted policies for the use of the city-owned equipment.

Sheriff’s Report
Council members received the monthly Sheriff’s Report, and statistics show that crime levels have remained relatively stable in the city from 2011 to 2012.

Through July of this year there have been 24 individuals arrested, compared to 33 through July of last year.

Part I crimes are also slightly below last year’s totals, with 35 total Part I crimes reported through July compared to 38 last year. The majority of those incidents (25) have been thefts this year, while there have also been seven reported burglaries, two aggravated assaults and one sex crime.

Part II crimes are up slightly overall this year, from 104 through July of 2011 to 114 this year. Those incidents include 17 property damage reports, 16 assaults and 14 theft-related incidents.

In other business, the council:
• Accepted the full resignation of City employee Jim Beckendorf, effective Aug. 31. Beckendorf has been partially retired since 2009, and the city has continued to operate with his Class B wastewater license. With his official retirement, however, the city will need to contract with its city engineer or a neighboring community to operate under that license.

• Held a public hearing and approved a request to vacate a public drainage and utility easement in the Tacoma West Industrial Park. The action was related to the recent replatting of a pair of lots in the industrial park to accommodate the Vickerman expansion project.

• Reviewed and approved a request for outdoor consumption at the new Unkle Thirsty’s establishment during Stiftungsfest.
• Held a public hearing regarding changes to the rental housing licensing ordinance. The license fee was increased in 2012, and during the meeting the council approved an extension of the license period from two years to three years in order to save on city costs and give property owners additional value for the increased fee.

• Approved a lawful gambling exempt permit for Stiftungsfest raffles.

• Approved an outdoor liquor consumption request for Last Call Too Inc.

• Approved a payment of $89,390.83 to Caldwell Asphalt Company for crack sealing and seal coating work.