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Longboat Key Wednesday, Jul. 15, 2009 11 years ago

Jaleski wants electronic agendas

by: Kurt Schultheis Senior Editor

Longboat Key Commissioner Gene Jaleski is bringing his technology suggestions to the dais.

Last week, Jaleski asked Town Manager Bruce St. Denis to add a discussion to the September regular workshop to replace the town’s paper agendas with an electronic agenda format.

Jaleski cites Sarasota County’s electronic agenda, which is available online and is combined with video on demand, as an example.

“The major attraction to electronic agenda applications is their improved front-end efficiencies, saving staff time and, thus, money,” Jaleski said.

The revised electronic format, Jaleski said, would enable both timely and public publishing of agendas.
“This gives both the public and the commissioners time to do research, ask questions, discuss issues with constituents and in general be better prepared for the business of governance because of improved lead times in the agenda process,” Jaleski said.

Sarasota County’s Web site lists an archived list of agenda items, the action taken on the agenda, the official meeting minutes and a video of the particular agenda item. The county’s electronic agenda is called eGenda.

Robin Focht, calendar administrator for the county’s eGenda system, said the entire system is used to prepare agendas and archive meetings.

“It literally builds agendas for you,” Focht said.

Focht said agendas are published on the Web site the Wednesday before county commission meetings are held the following Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

While Focht admitted that commissioners still like to have a hard copy of the materials, she said the county now makes only eight copies instead of 19 copies.

“It saves immensely on staff time,” said Focht, who is now the only person involved with an agenda system that used to rely on the help of six staff members.

Focht said an internal cost-savings study shows the county has saved $125,000 per year in associated costs.

The Sarasota County eGenda system, however, costs taxpayers $20,000 per year for maintenance software and $15,000 per year for vendors to link documents and videos to the county’s Web site.

But Jaleski says that the county’s system “is the Cadillac of the electronic agendas.”

Town Clerk Trish Granger said town staff would begin reviewing electronic agendas on a smaller scale in preparation for the commission’s September regular workshop.

Jaleski believes an electronic agenda would be beneficial to Key residents who can’t access a copy of the agenda materials unless they ask for them ahead of time.

“I'm gunning for more transparency in government and trying to get the public’s input from agenda materials before our meetings are held,” Jaleski said. “We need to move forward to make our town more up to date and more attractive.”


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