On Monday, August 10th, the County government unveiled its new Paperless Agenda Management System at a workshop attended by the Board of Commissioners, Department Heads and members of the general public. The new system, designed by Provox, was purchased last year by the Administration Department and has been in the setup and implementation process for some time now as it was readied for public use. The system provides a range of services, both to Commissioners and staff, as well as making a wealth of information available to the public electronically. This information includes meetings, items discussed and those acted upon at BOC meetings. The system was shown to the public for the first time in a demonstration by County Clerk Crystal Epps, who has headed up the project and worked with Provox for months on the setup.
The system will move the Commissioners and staff away from a paper-based system, which is time-consuming to construct, difficult to make last-minute changes to and which uses a lot of paper and copier resources. Each item on the monthly agenda generates documents, sometimes as few as one and sometimes, in the case of zoning matters, 40-50 pages of information, all of which had previously gone into a hefty binder which the Commissioners had to come and pick up. In recent years, much of this could be scanned and emailed to commissioners but oftentimes the file size would exceed what could be sent electronically. With the new systems, a user can simply open an iPad, laptop or desktop computer, go to the County website, click on “Agendas” and go right into the system.
From there, a new page will open up that displays a range of options available to all users including a calendar of meetings scheduled, contact information for elected and key appointed officials, documents used in support of the meetings and much more. At this current time, the information available is limited to recent months but as time goes by and information is input into the system, the database of information will continue to grow.
One function that was shown at the meeting is the option for Commissioners to vote electronically with a portable keypad and for their vote to be recorded directly into the system. This in turn will be generated into the minutes of the meetings and allow for the public to view how each commissioner votes on a matter. It also can help to limit any confusion about who placed motions and seconded motions as well as whether all five commissioner actually voted on the matter at hand. An option to abstain from voting is also included for cases where a conflict of interest might exist.
Possibly the best benefit of the system though will be its ability to archive and retrieve documents electronically, which will allow the public, media and others who wish to see meeting materials the opportunity to do so from the comfort of their home or office, saving them from having to make a trip to the Administration building and pay for paper copies. The system will pay for itself within a few years due to reducing the amount of paper used, wear and tear on copier machines and the amount of staff time that was required to put materials together in the old format.
The County Clerk’s Office responds to a number of requests each month for information regarding decisions made by the Board of Commissioners, zoning issues, requests from attorneys and other public information items. Having this type of system in place is just another way that Butts County has transitioned into the 21st century using technology to streamline processes and provide greater accountability to the public. As the system is populated with more and more information, the benefits to all who use it will increase tremendously as time goes by. For more information or to see the system in place, go to www.buttscountyga.com and click on “Agendas” at the top right of the screen. An information screen such as the one shown above will display and the user can explore the different functions that are available or will be available in the coming months.