As a first step toward what eventually could be a paperless county government, Pasquotank commissioners Monday agreed to purchase computer tablets for three county commissioners and three key administrators.
The six iPad computers are expected to cost the county $4,200. The computer tablets are being bought for three commissioners who don’t have one — Gary White, Bill Sterritt and Frankie Meads — and for County Manager Randy Keaton, Assistant County Manager Rodney Bunch and County Attorney Mike Cox.
The $700 cost of each iPad includes a two-year warranty and a rotating stand and case.
IPads are not being purchased for board Chairman Jeff Dixon and Commissioners Lloyd Griffin, Cecil Perry and Joe Winslow because they either already have a computer tablet, a notebook computer or a laptop.
The iPads purchased by the county will be county property and will be turned back over to the county when commissioners leave office.
Keaton told commissioners Monday afternoon that purchasing the iPads is similar to when the county bought fax machines some years ago for commissioners who didn’t already have a way to receive faxes.
Keaton said the county is interested in doing more things on a paperless basis, so purchasing the iPads will help further that goal.
When Meads asked how much money the county would save by using the iPads, Keaton acknowledged that there may not be any cost savings. But the iPads will allow the county to do things more efficiently, he said. They also will give commissioners less paper to lug around, he added.
Winslow said he initially had been skeptical of the iPad idea. But after talking to officials in other counties, he said he learned that iPads have been very helpful in streamlining the way they do their work. City Council members in Elizabeth City and commissioners in neighboring Camden County already use government-purchased iPads.
Winslow said the computers can be used to research issues and in some cases allow matters that once would have taken additional time to be resolved right away. The iPads also will help county staff stay connected to commissioners, Winslow said.
Winslow said he’s heard statistics about how the iPad saves money by saving paper, but he says he’s skeptical. Even so, he still believes purchasing the iPads is a good idea.
Meads asked if commissioners that don’t already have iPads could have the cost deducted from their paychecks instead of the county buying them.
Dixon said he supports having the iPads but needs to know that all the commissioners will make a commitment to learning how to use them and make use of them. It will be a waste of money to buy computer tablets if they aren’t used, Dixon said.
All the commissioners said they would learn and use the iPads.
Dixon said commissioners need to realize that following the purchase, they will receive paper agenda packets and reports for only a specified period of time. After then, they receive everything from the county electronically.
Elizabeth City’s City Council got iPads about a year ago and the city switched to a paperless system after a couple of months