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City Council to purchase tablet computers

Sat., Jan. 19, 2008, midnight

The Spokane Valley City Council plans to save a $20,400 tree.

Council members voted last week to purchase a dozen “tablet” computers at an estimated cost of $1,700 apiece as part of an effort to make their weekly informational packets paperless.

Tablet computers have touch screens that can respond to a stylus instead of a mouse, and have software capable of recognizing users’ handwriting. Also, the screens can be flipped around to reveal a conventional keyboard.

Aside from saving paper, the new computers will allow council members and senior city employees to archive information electronically. They’ll also be able to search for items without shuffling through mountains of paper.

An advantage of tablet computers is that council members will be able to jot notes on their electronic documents as though they were paper, according to city spokeswoman Carolbelle Branch.

A staff report said the council’s current laptop computers are “beyond their prime,” but Branch said the 5-year-old machines will be assigned to city employees.

In addition to council members, the city manager, deputy city manager and city clerk are to get tablet computers. Two others will be available for the city attorney or one of his deputies when they attend council meetings and for other city employees who give presentations to the council.

Branch said the new computers will be obtained through the state purchasing system, which doesn’t require public bids.

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