Minutes of the meeting of May 26, 2009
The Newtown Township Technology Committee met on May 26, 2009 in the Newtown Township Building. In attendance and voting were Chairman Edward Lipski and members Robert Bowers, Mike Horan and Jon Schnell. Also in attendance was Township Supervisor Mike Gallagher and prospective Committee members Lynne Brennan, Arun Chaudhary and Anand Shukla.
Call to Order: The meeting was called to order at 7:30 PM.
Approval of Minutes: Mr. Lipski moved to accept the minutes of April 28, 2009. Mr. Schnell seconded and the motion passed 4-0.
Park and Recreation Web Site: Mr. Lipski reviewed for prospective Committee members the Committee’s ongoing project to create a more interactive Township Park and Recreation Web site. The Park and Recreation Department is attempting to adjust to a “paperless” requirement in Council Rock School District, which has eliminated the distribution of flyers announcing programs, classes and camps, resulting in a drop in enrollments. Currently the Park and Recreation brochure is a PDF on the Township Web site. Enrollments must be done either by telephone or in person during business hours. The Department would like a more responsive, easy to navigate Web site with on-line registration.
Mr. Lipski met with Park and Recreation Director Kathy Pawlenko and Northampton Park and Recreation Director Nancy Palko to review Northampton’s recently upgraded site, hosted by www.myrec.com. My Rec is a small company which offers a standard template; third party consultants do the work. They meet or exceed all of the Park and Recreation Department’s requirements at a cost of $2900 per year plus $0.10 per transaction. Set-up would be $800. Mrs. Pawlenko was comfortable with the pricing but would want to see comparisons with other companies. It is Mr. Lipski’s understanding that My Rec would enter the fall brochure information, with the Park and Recreation Department making their own changes, for example canceling an unsuccessfully enrolled class or adding additional sections for popular classes. The Park and Recreation Department uses Access to generate a variety of reports. Mr. Lipski still needs to investigate whether My Rec can provide identical reports. The Park and Recreation Department would need to have frequent access to the database. Mr. Lipski explained that the Department uses the database to determine the success of programs to help plan future offerings; they use it to target mailings to past participants and to generate statistics for the Township’s finance department and Board of Supervisors.
Mr. Lipski said that currently TD Bank does not charge the Township for credit card transactions. He will investigate whether that can be continued with My Rec or any other provider. My Rec does not keep credit card numbers; each transaction would need a new credit card entry.
Mr. Lipski said that one concern Mrs. Pawlenko has is that she would like the Web site to look Newtown Township’s site. She does not want it to appear as though a user as left the Township’s site.
The next steps on this project will be:
Technology for New Municipal Complex Buildings: Mr. Lipski reviewed the Committee’s past discussions about technology recommendations for the new administration building, which included incorporating Netbooks into the dais and using Smartboards for displaying plans at televised meetings.
Mr. Schnell said that he has contacted a Canadian representative of Smartboard, and was told of a variety of products that could be used at meetings that could be used both on the dais and transmitted directly to the television feed. Currently cameras focus on paper plans presented on an easel. He has tried, so far unsuccessfully, to contact vendors in our region to arrange demonstrations of Smartboard technology for the government setting.
Mr. Horan said that Council Rock School District is using Promethean Boards. He will try to get information on business uses for this product line.
Mr. Gallagher said that he has spoken to Board members informally about these ideas, and the Board has expressed cautious interest.
Mr. Schnell suggested creating a request for proposals to gather more concrete information on costs. He would like to include teleconferencing in the proposal.
Technology Unrelated to New Building: Mr. Gallagher said that the Township currently spends about $44,000 per year on copier leases. He would like help from the Technology Committee to help eliminate some of the paper and copying done each year. It is his hope that the Board of Supervisors and the Consultants can begin working with electronic copies of much of the paperwork they need at meetings. He has begun to test this idea by using an electronic copy of his packet and bringing his own laptop to Board meetings. Ideally, each of the people on the dais would have access to the same electronic documents. Applicants could present plans electronically as well.
Mr. Gallagher discussed shared access collaboration for the Board and Administration. He would like the Committee to work with Allen Herr on this.
Ms. Brennan asked about the budget process for technology.
Mr. Gallagher said that the Township has a 5 year hardware purchase plan. Some of the discussed items would be part of the technology budget, some would be part of the budget for the new municipal complex. The budget process begins in the summer with meetings with the Financial Planning Committee and various department heads. The Board of Supervisors begins budget consideration in September or October. The new budget must be adopted by the end of the calendar year.
Mr. Lipski moved to adjourn at 9:30 PM. Mr. Horan seconded and the motion passed 4-0.
Mary Donaldson, Recording Secretary