Pass Christian goes digital in order to use less paper

Board, public get digital copies of agendas, exhibits

PASS CHRISTIAN

 Tree lover Renee Brooks hopes to save a few forests by switching the Pass Christian Board of Aldermen to paperless meetings.

Brooks, who is alderwoman-at-large, said she was horrified at the amount of paper waste generated by creating agenda packets for the board, mayor, city clerk and attorney. The packets required at least six reams of paper every two weeks, she said. That’s about 3,000 sheets of paper.

It also took a lot of time for clerks to copy and assemble.

With a $5,000 grant from DuPont DeLisle, Brooks got laptops for aldermen so they can get digitized copies of the agenda and exhibits on a jump drive prior to the meetings.

IT Manager Shawn Jerome created a more user-friendly Web site for the city and included not just agendas and minutes for public viewing, but also exhibits on issues to be discussed.

“By offering residents an opportunity to go online and view the agendas, exhibits and minutes, we are providing much-needed transparency while also creating a greener planet,” she said.

The move is providing information to Pass Christian business owners and residents.

“Even when you look at the agenda, you don’t always know what’s going on,” she said. “People are looking at the exhibits and calling me on the weekend, and that’s what I wanted.”

A slide-screen projector will be installed in the boardroom this summer so people attending meetings can see what is being discussed, she said. For example, if aldermen are talking about road closures, maps of the area will be displayed during the discussion.

Brooks wants to eventually have meetings streamed live on the Web site, a move other aldermen have rebuffed so far. She remains undaunted. “I’ll get them there, they’ll see,” she said.

Other cities along the Coast use their Web sites to give people easier access to government.

Video of Gautier City Council meetings is available online within a day of a meeting, and the city makes agendas, exhibits and minutes available before meetings, said Patty Joseph, Gautier’s information technology support specialist.

Biloxi, Gulfport, Ocean Springs, Long Beach and Waveland Web sites offer public access to agendas and minutes but not exhibits. D’Iberville offers agendas prior to the meeting. Updates are added after the meeting, said Communications Director Nicole Young. Pascagoula plans to add access to exhibits, said City Manager Kay Kell. Moss Point and Bay St. Louis are both working on new Web sites.

Harrison County makes agendas available, but not minutes and exhibits. Jackson County offers agendas and minutes, but not exhibits. Hancock County is planning to add agendas to their Web site soon, said Chancery Clerk Tim Kellar.

By DONNA MELTON – dmelton@sunherald.com

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