The debate over whether or not to purchase laptop computers for council members was discussed again at the Common Council meeting held Tuesday, Sept. 14, at the Clintonville Community Center.
Quotes for purchasing laptops for each alderperson had been presented at the Aug. 10 Common Council meeting. Various quotes were reviewed, including one from Best Buy that would provide HP Mini-Notebooks for $249.99 each. This cost is $5 over store cost.
It was reported that purchasing the computers would cost $3,200, and that the computers would have a life expectancy of four years. It was also noted that the city currently spends $1,600 per year to print off paper copies of the council packets for each council member at every regularly scheduled meeting.
“In the big picture, the city would be saving money after the second year,” said Alderperson Steve Kettenhoven. “Purchasing the computers would not be a new expense, because they would eliminate copy costs.”
Alderperson Gloria Dunlavy expressed her concerns over virus protection, repairs and basic maintenance. “I am not in favor of this right now,” Dunlavy said. “I am not going to support this.”
According to a letter from Ralph Schmal, the city’s information technology consultant, virus protection would come free of charge, along with Microsoft Open Office, which would provide the operating system for the computers.
Alderperson Roger Metzger asked whether or not city staff would still receive paper copies of the council packets. City Administrator Lisa Kuss stated that most city staff already have their own laptops.
“The feedback I’ve heard from other cities that got laptops for their alderpersons has not been positive,” Metzger stated. “We don’t need computers now.”
“What if we have to print something off?” questioned Dunlavy. “I would want my ink reimbursed, and the wear and tear on my printer to be reimbursed.”
“If we were to get laptops, we would be saving money,” Kuss stated. “If we decide not to get them, we would still have to spend $1,600 each year to print off the council packets.”
No action was taken on the issue. At the Aug. 10 council meeting, the matter had been referred to the Finance Committee for further examination.