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Windsor council goes paperless, buys iPads

The Windsor Town Council is on the verge of becoming the first government body in Sonoma County to go with paperless agendas, forsaking the bulky printed reports that have been an accessory for elected officials for decades.

By equipping its top officials to Apple iPads, Windsor expects to save the reams of paper and hours of staff time required to produce the thick agenda packets council members rely upon for their meetings.

In going digital and eliminating printing costs for the twice-monthly meetings, town officials estimate the Apple iPads they are purchasing will pay for themselves in less than a year.

"We will receive the iPads in February," Mayor Debora Fudge said Wednesday, adding the new digital tablet devices "will be really helpful."

The seven iPads for the five councilmembers and staff cost $5,670, including the monthly Internet service charge for a year.

That compares to printing costs and staff time of about $6,500 annually.

Besides the cost savings, council members say it's environmentally friendlier. Not only will it reduce paper use, it also will end the practice of town employees delivering the agenda packets to the homes of council members the week prior to their meetings.

"Staff won't be driving all over Windsor," Fudge said of the reduction in fuel and greenhouse gases.

According to Town Clerk Maria De La O, none of the other eight city councils in Sonoma County, or the Board of Supervisors, have implemented paperless agenda programs.

At the county Board of Supervisors, employees scan agenda packets into pdf documents, then e-mail them to two supervisors, who have iPads they purchased with their own funds, according to De La O.

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