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Published: Tuesday, 4/14/2009

Toledo council asked to cut back on use of paper

BY IGNAZIO MESSINA
BLADE STAFF WRITER

"The way Toledo deals with documents still looks like the 1970s," Mr. Biel said during a news conference Monday.

Toledo city government used 7.15 million sheets of paper in 2008. Mr. McNamara wants that number reduced.

Last year, the 12 Toledo councilmen and their staff of about a dozen used 311,288 sheets of paper, or about 1,300 sheets every business day. "This is a lot of paper - often for documents that are looked at just once," Mr. McNamara said. "Even a modest reduction in paper consumption will save money and help the environment."

Mr. McNamara suggested council provide copies of its weekly agendas and accompanying documents online for the public and media rather than on paper.

"That is the first step to truly going paperless," he said.

The council packet typically contains memos, proposed legislation, and other materials to be used in that week's meetings.

Mr. McNamara said he will introduce a resolution that directs council staff to provide public access to the packets via download on council's file transfer protocol server. Directions on how to access the server would be posted on council's Web site, http://ci.toledo.oh.us/ToledoCityCouncil.aspx.

The city spent more than $57,000 last year for copy paper at $39.90 per 5,000-sheet case. Beginning in July, the city used only 100 percent recycled paper.

In 2006, the Lucas County commissioners made the move toward less paper with the use of laptop computers.

The commissioners outfitted their first-floor meeting room with technology that enabled them to view agenda items on their laptops.

The laptops cost about $1,500 each, and the county spent about $400 to equip the meeting room with a wireless router. A wireless router allows the commissioners to use laptops without requiring them to plug into a system.

A plan in January, 2008, to install public wireless access in Toledo City Council's chambers crashed when some councilmen questioned the expense. Councilman Frank Szollosi then proposed spending $6,000 for the wireless Internet access.

At the time, county Commissioner Tina Skeldon Wozniak offered to help the city and the county collaborate to cut costs.



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