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Schenectady County Legislature Looks to Reduce Paper Usage

Tablets in the Legislative Chamber

Legislature Begins Using Tablets for Meeting Documents

Earlier this year, Schenectady County Legislators Richard Ruzzo and Cathy Gatta, noting the large volume of paper used to produce copies of documents for the County Legislature’s meetings, proposed a change to electronic tablets during meetings to reduce the Legislature’s paper usage.

Each year, the County Legislature prints between 25,000 and 30,000 pages of documents to place on the desk of the Legislature’s 15 members for meetings.

At the request of Legislators Ruzzo and Gatta, Legislature Chair Anthony Jasenski asked the Legislature’s staff to purchase tablets for each of the Legislature’s 15 members to use during Legislative meetings. The tablets were used for the first-time last night at the Legislature’s committee meeting.

“Legislators Ruzzo and Gatta really spearheaded this effort for us,” stated Chairman Jasenski. “The members already receive copies of the agenda electronically the Friday before our meetings. Many prefer to save the electronic version for future reference rather than the hard copy, so the copies end up in the recycling bin at the end of the meeting. The request to explore a way to use digital copies during the meeting made perfect sense.”

Legislator Ruzzo, who is the chair of the Legislature’s Committee on Technology & Communications, noted that in addition to reducing paper usage, the change would improve efficiency.

“We are living in a digital society. Many businesses and government bodies have made this change. Technology has improved over the past several years, making this an easy change to implement and there are several benefits to doing so,” stated Ruzzo. “It will reduce our impact on the environment, it will reduce our cost for paper and copying and it will improve efficiency for our staff by reducing the number of copies we need them to make. It just makes sense.”

Legislator Gatta noted that, while the change will not completely eliminate the need for some paper copies to be produced for the public, every little bit helps. She began using her personal iPad at meetings several years ago in lieu of a physical copy of the agenda.

“Using my tablet at meetings was a small step that I could take toward reducing our paper usage in county government to save money and reduce our environmental impact. Every step helps,” said Gatta. “When I began using my iPad several years ago, some of my colleagues were a bit hesitant to make the change themselves. Due to the pandemic, we all had to rely on technology and it is now more engrained in our lives which has increased people’s comfort levels. When we suggested the change, everyone was more enthusiastic.”

Ruzzo and Gatta were pleased that their colleagues embraced this step and hope that it will lead to other local governmental bodies and businesses to follow suit.

The County Legislature also recently completed a project to upgrade the camera system in the Legislative Chamber. This upgrade will improve the Legislature’s ability to live stream.