PARKERSBURG - The city's Capital Reserve Fund could be almost $140,000 lighter following tonight's Parkersburg City Council meeting. Council members will consider three resolutions tonight that could fund a traffic light, a feasibility study and computer tablets for council members.
Council - meeting for the final time this year - will consider a resolution to pull $125,000 to fund a proposed traffic signal at Murdoch Avenue and the Park Shopping Center. Members will also consider $10,000 to pay for a portion of a proposed feasibility student to gauge interest in a Frontier League baseball team in Parkersburg.
Council will also consider $3,000 to purchase computer tablets for its members to cut paper and printing costs. Out-going council member Brad Kimes said the push to go paperless is something he's wanted to do for a few years. He said if there is a large agenda, it takes a ream of paper to print it for council.
"Just the idea of it seems wasteful for me," he said. "So many things are used for a week or two; the clerk keeps a hard copy. I used to keep stacks and stacks of papers and it got cumbersome."
Council member Sharon Lynch keeps her council papers in a large binder.
"This should take the place of her binder," Kimes said, noting Lynch is one of the resolution's sponsors.
"Everybody does email and is online. This is a good way to get started and save some trees," he added.
Under the proposal, council members are seeking $3,000 to purchase nine computer tablets, one for each council member. Kimes said he's received some recommendations for the tablets, costing about $300 a piece.
Kimes noted the city council agenda is emailed to council members and the media. The city code is online, on the city's website.
He speculates the city's budget - which is also posted online - can be sent to the council members' tablets.
"You won't have all these binders, and the access is right there," Kimes said.
He's also proposing the tablets have a camera.
"If there is something you have in your district that you need to take a picture of and send it someone, you can do that."
Many council members have cellphones that include built-in cameras. Most council members have smartphones.
"That is a personal cellphone," said Kimes, adding they are not efficient for use during meetings.
"I tried it once, it didn't work."
Kimes has no idea if any other government entities utilize computers for meetings.
In 2010, the Wood County Board of Education purchased laptops for members and the superintendent for paperless meetings. The devices are no longer used at meetings. The project lasted less than a year before falling into disuse.
Council will also consider expending $10,000 for a feasibility study.
Council member John Rockhold said he favors putting money into the feasibility study. But he's ambivalent about the matter being considered now or at the next meeting when the new council (including four new members) take office. At a recent Personnel Committee meeting, Rockhold declined to second a motion to advertise the city clerk's position, believing it was a matter to be left to the new council.
"I could go either way," he said. "If they want to vote fine. If not, fine. It needs to be voted on at some point in time,
Mayor Bob Newell thinks the matter should be considered by the current council.
"It shouldn't be tabled," he said. "They are getting paid for the last meeting. This is not Congress. They are not on Christmas break."
Newell said this council is well aware of the project, which was started this spring and included a tour of facilities in Washington, Pa.
The mayor said council members should not be against the feasibility study.
"We are aware of my opinion and city council's. This is about finding out if people will support it and whether it can go forward."
City officials will also consider a resolution to expend $125,000 for a traffic signal on Murdoch Avenue at the Park Shopping Center entrance.
The money for the signal is contingent on the shopping center making the proposed improvements and a state highways study.
Newell said the light won't go in until all that work is complete.
"If they decide not to do it, the light won't go in, which is contingent on the traffic study."