Commissioners OK tablet option

Published 9:52 am Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Mower County Commissioners are going digital, but only if they choose to.

The county board unanimously approved a plan to give themselves the option to obtain and use county-owned iPads or similar tablets.

Agendas are currently emailed to commissioners, along with .pdf documents of background and assorted information. County Coordinator Craig Oscarson noted tablets aren’t essential at this point in Mower, because the county doesn’t have the lengthy paper agendas that some counties do.

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With the board split on the need for tablets, the county opted to approve the option to let each commissioner decide whether to get a county tablet, which could cost about $450 a piece if they use iPads.

Ankeny was split on the need, but he added he could see the benefit.

“It’d be nice not to have the burden of all the paper,” Chairman Mike Ankeny said.

Commissioner Jerry Reinartz said he wouldn’t need a tablet.

“At this point, I’m getting by fine getting the email on my home computer,” he said.

Commissioner Tony Bennett said he’d prefer to just use his personal tablet.

Some county staff already use iPads. County Attorney Kristen Nelsen and her attorneys have iPads, and she told the board they’ve worked well for their needs.

“I’ve never had an issue, and my employees have never had an issue,” she said.

Last year, the city of Austin switched entirely to paperless agendas and bought iPads/tablets for council members and department heads.

The county-owned tablets will only be used for county business and will have wifi but no data plans.