City Going Green
Mayor Jill Dabbs - Mayor’s Office
Upon taking office in 2011 I employed the assistance of an iPad and an iPhone in order to keep up with the many notes, agendas, contacts, and calendars I use to keep track of city operations. These two devices replaced my business card holder, my steno pad, my documents folder, my briefcase filled with paper agendas, my old paper bound daytimer and many other antiquated
business tools that simply were no longer efficient for managing the Mayor’s office. Every one of these applications enabled my office to GO GREEN. We waste very little paper. We spend less money. We rarely misplace anything because it is always accessible through a smartphone, mobile device, or desktop via the Internet.
Our new “Google Docs for Government” application is a very powerful tool. Every city department now utilizes it on a daily basis. We have eliminated the need to print and reprint draft documents because we share the document online with those collaborating on any given task such as a press release or a draft ordinance until it is just the way we want it and then we release it to the press or submit the draft ordinance/resolution to council for review and consideration for passage. It is a goal of this administration to increase accessibility to recycling, including convenient curbside recycling. During the past year we toured recycling facilities
throughout the state and studied options to make this a reality. We are closer to reaching this goal than we were a year ago. We have also, with the help of Saline County Solid Waste Management District, increased the number of Recycling Centers throughout the city. We have bins at City Hall, Bethel Middle School, and Bishop Park available to the public.
I am very proud of all we have accomplished in such a short period of time regarding advancing the City’s green agenda. However, this is just the beginning. We have many other improvements planned across almost every department throughout the next year. 2013 is going to be the year Bryant truly does GO GREEN!!
City Clerk’s Office
By state law, the clerk must keep all original city council meeting minutes, ordinances, and resolutions on file. The implementation of Laserfiche software has enabled these delicate original documents to be scanned into a securely, backed up virtual archive center. This software not only keeps a backup of these historic documents in the case of disaster, but in the near future will also allow anyone who chooses to have the ability to access the archives (Minutes, Ordinances, and Resolutions going back to the 1940’s) through the City website. Laserfiche will be an archive center for almost all the other paper documents submitted to the clerk’s office, eliminating paper and the need for excessive storage space. If you have been to City Hall then you know storage space is a rare commodity.
We are also currently working with MuniCode Corporation to put the city’s municipal code on the city website. This will be a wonderful tool once implemented. The municipal code is a summarization of all the city’s laws (ordinances). Municode will build out the Bryant City Code for the website organizing it into simple alphabetized categories making it very easy for anyone to find the specific items they are looking for. The referenced ordinance numbers in the Code will have hyperlinks which will allow the actual ordinances to be viewed in their entirety at the click of a mouse.
For the city council meetings and all other committee meetings in the city we have just started using a new tool, Agenda Center, compliments of the Civic Plus software on the City’s new website. The use of Google Docs and the Agenda Center has already completely eliminated the need for printed paper to build the council meeting agendas and has made the internal process and workflow for building the agendas much more efficient than ever before. The redundancy we have dealt with in the past is now gone! By using Agenda Center items begin within the departments, then flow to the Mayor, then on to the proper committees; eventually making their way to the City Clerk for the final Council agenda. Once the final agenda is published in the Agenda Center it automatically uploads to the City website for all to view. Those who have signed up for the “Notify Me” option on the website are automatically notified that a new agenda has been published. Agenda Center will soon be used for all committee meetings as well to keep everything consistent throughout the departments and uniform on the website.
We have worked closely with the IT Department to identify specific ways to cut out the need for printed agendas/agenda packets for City Council meetings. Recently, the Mayor and IT asked all City departments to look at their use of issued Motorola Xoom Tablets and determine whether they were truly needed or if they would be able to turn a few back in to be repurposed for other needs of the city. Thankfully, through the collaborative efforts of the departments, each of the Council members will have a Xoom Tablet to use during Finance and Personnel Committee and for all City Council Meetings. In addition, large monitors have been installed in the courtroom which will allow meeting agendas and other supporting documents to be displayed on screen for all attendees to view. They may also view agenda packets on their personal smartphones/iPads via the website. The recording system has recently been upgraded so that in addition to agenda packets and minutes, the audio from each meeting is automatically uploaded to the City website as well. Several of the city department heads have offered to help with a training seminar to help train Council members in using the Xoom Tablets or iPads and Google Docs to eliminate the need for printing agenda packets (details on this training will be announced soon).
These are just a few of the accomplishments and efforts we have taken to GO GREEN in the City Clerk’s office, which also flows over to other departments and the citizens as well. Enough cannot be said about the collaboration of the Mayor, City Council, IT and all other departments in making this all come to fruition. There is still much to be done but with the tools we have in place now, we will continue to chip away at the stone one day at a time.
The Legal department is drafting a comprehensive records retention policy to identify the categories of documents the City generates and the time periods those documents must be maintained. With the improvements in computer capacity and redundancy, electronic storage and electronic archival is a key element in the records retention policy. For example, the opportunities that the Laserfiche software provides for archival storage of city records has never been better. The fact that several staff members had the opportunity to attend an intensive multi-day training class hosted by Laserfiche only furthers the electronic storage capabilities of the City of Bryant. The use of Google documents, for example, allows editing and collaboration on electronic documents without the necessity of printing multiple hard copies for editing and input. The fact that interested employees can access the same “working document” significantly cuts down on the print, edit, change, reprint, edit, final print process. It allows instead, final documents to be printed when final and ready for signatures. There are steps yet to be taken before fully implementing the document retention policy, but the groundwork has been laid for the path to cutting printing, storing and repetitive printing.
The Mayor’s office, in connection with the IT consultant, and my office, prepared a disaster recovery plan that would allow the City to maintain continuity of business and records if a disaster struck City Hall. The ability to “remote” in and access computer files and or backups allows the City to have fall back capabilities in the event of a major disaster striking at city facilities. Document retention fits into the Disaster Recovery Plan and will work hand in hand with it. The ability to retrieve electronically stored documents from backup data storage allows, paper document reproduction to be significantly reduced, allows immediate access to important and necessary documents, and allows access from places other than City hall if necessary.
Animal Control -
The Animal Control Department tries to recycle clear plastic bottles, paper and surplus newspapers (which are donated by local residents for use in our puppy pens.) We also recycle cans and aluminum tags that are not used from year to year.
Most recently, we stopped purchasing pre-made license tags in favor of tags engraved in-house in order to reduce the number of un-issued tags being disposed of annually. We also purchase consumable items made of recycled materials, whenever we can and it is economically feasible. The department is also in the process of going as paperless as we can, by adapting the iWorq online software to our daily duties, so that we reduce the amount of paper generated by our department via forms. This coupled with Google Applications and email is allowing our department to communicate internally, as well as with other departments within the city without all the paper of memos.
Finally, our department handles whatever we can via telephone or email, so that we are not wasting fuel to drive across town when unnecessary. If we can handle a complaint via telephone, we will do so if it is the most effective option.
Code Enforcement -
We have achieved going green by implementing the iWorq software which allows all transactions to be done by computer in the field or from a desktop or laptop anywhere. All citizens can submit complaints online; builders can submit applications, pay for permits, purchase business licenses, check the progress of the inspections on their project, request inspections, pay for re-inspects etc... This will cut way down on people having to drive to the office, and they also don't have to fill out paperwork at the office, but rather they can submit most anything online through the iWorq software; from sign permit applications to business licenses. We currently write up all our inspections daily with this new software, we will utilize the Chromebook to do all of our inspections. As we complete them in the field, they will be entered into the computer. Once entered at the job site, the contractors can go to our website and access iWorq and see immediately the results of their inspection.
We currently send out about 600 business license renewals yearly, with our new software we can do this by email. This will save paper envelopes and postage. They also can be submitted and paid for online. Once approved, licenses will be available for pick up or we will mail the license to the applicants.
Bryant Courts -
The Bryant Department of the Saline County District Court is also making efforts to GO GREEN. Our office recycles our paper waste, and we have transitioned to an electronic memo system to cut down on printing.
In effort to reduce our footprint further, we have plans to convert our document storage to digital form. We will scan files and store them in a secure database, and will shred and recycle the paper copies we have housed in storage in the past.
Finance Department and Bryant Water Office-
Our new accounting software Springbrook, will allow us to save paper and printing costs. Water Customers can opt out of receiving a paper bill in the mail and review them online. Employees will process time cards online instead of on paper and approvals will be done online as well. Purchase Orders will be prepared, approved and processed online instead of using multi-copy NCR paper. Instead of using preprinted checks for each of our 50 bank accounts, we will be using blank check stock and MICR ink cartridges; which will also increase security. Springbrook will also allow all Department Heads to review their financial statements at their desk instead of weekly printed reports.
Approximately 6 months ago we implemented Shred-It boxes in our department and HR to eliminate shredding. In December, we received a notice from them that we have saved 10 trees.
The Water Department posted forms on the website to obtain new service, disconnect service, and begin bank or credit card drafts. The form to disconnect service can be submitted on-line and has significantly reduced the customers coming into the office to complete a paper form. It is an easy and efficient way for customers to disconnect their water service. We hope to have more forms available online soon.
Laserfiche will be a great asset to our department. We will be able to quickly and easily research items. We will reduce the number of copies made. Plus our auditors will be able to review all the documentation they need without us having to pull or return the documents.
Fire Department -
The Fire Department has reduced the amount of paper and ink we use by communicating digitally for most things, replacing hard copy. This includes memos, general notes, and information requests for items such as employment opportunity information and fire report requests.
Records such as training logs are filled out, submitted, and archived digitally.
Human Resources -
In an effort to GO GREEN with the City of Bryant, the Human Resources Department has taken several steps to eliminate paper waste and reduce printing costs. We have restructured the employee evaluation process through e-mail and Google docs. Only the final complete evaluation is printed out for signatures. No longer is the City printing and reprinting evaluations for changes. The department is no longer printing payroll confirmation sheets to send over to finance to notify the finance coordinator that payroll is ready for processing. The HR Generalist sends an email to let the coordinator know when each payroll is ready (General, Water, and Streets). In addition, applications for city employment are available on the City website.
Over the next year, the Human Resources Department has plans to do much more to improve efficiencies and eliminate paper waste. We will create a timesheet and leave documentation sheet process that requires less paper, and utilize the City’s records retention policy to create electronic document storage. Finally, employee handbooks and other employee forms will be available on the Intranet (“The Internal Buzz” - Intranet is accessible to all city employees and most are already using this tool.)
Parks Department -
The Parks Department has made recycling available to anyone who wants to recycle. We have partnered with Keeping Bryant Beautiful in an effort to GO GREEN. Parks has cut out all printing except when absolutely necessary (flyers). Parks Committee agendas and work orders are the two main types of documents that are still currently printed but plans are in place to reduce or eliminate the need for printing these documents in the near future. The department has cut out the use of paper cancellation forms and has made this feature completely electronic.
The Parks Department gave away 200 trees last year and planted 115 in our parks. Bryant still proudly maintains the title of being a Tree City (by Tree City USA).
Planning & Community Development -
In Planning we have drafted a Tree Preservation Plan with the goal of leaving as many mature trees as possible in the process of new development and construction. We also work with Developers & Engineers through Development Review Committee meetings on a weekly basis to ensure attractive landscaping is established per City code and above this, we push for mature tree preservation when possible on new developments. We have received great cooperation in this matter and have made great strides to keep Bryant green and vibrant. Finally, in these weekly meetings and in our monthly Planning Commission meetings, we document our paperwork electronically to save paper and make our presentations to the public available on monitor to reduce the amount of paper used in training and notification.
Community Development Manager, MS-4 -
We have implemented a new software program called iWorq that is a work order and information management system that will keep all new data related to our work on a paperless storage system to replace the old paper files. Through our MS4 public outreach and training program, we educate the public and professional sectors on good housekeeping practices which focus on keeping the environment clean through debris pick up, construction site management, dumpster care, vegetation buffering, water gardens, detention ponds and general common sense techniques to help keep the city storm waters cleaner during rain events.
Police Department -
The Police Department has substantially reduced the amount of paper we were using by implementing new technology. The Police Department switched to Google Docs, which we use almost exclusively for all of our correspondence rather than printing and sharing only to make corrections and re-print.
We have implemented the new Digi-Ticket System which uses one piece of carbon paper printed at the scene instead of a one inch book that only held 25 tickets. The amount of storage space we saved by not having to file all of the ticket books is amazing, but what's better is the amount of paper we are not using compared to before.
Criminal Investigations are storing their case files on computer hard drives that are securely, backed up rather than having a printed file to only to be stuck in a file drawer. In addition to this measure, paper evidence is scanned into the drive instead of copying and placing it in a paper file.
The Street Department and Water/Wastewater Departments have implemented several GO GREEN initiatives.
The Department has attempted to retain most documents in digital format to eliminate paper waste. We have placed recycling bins at the Street Department Operations Building and the Water/Wastewater Operations Building. The Wastewater Department has installed energy efficient aeration and wastewater pumps to reduce our energy usage. The new AMI Meter System Project will help reduce our fuel consumption by making readings available at any time from the billing office. Finally, the Water Department will be encouraging its customers to sign up for our automatic draft and paperless billing options.