Newtown Township

Technology Committee

Minutes of the meeting of January 25, 2011

The Newtown Township Technology Committee met on January 25, 2011 in the Newtown Township Building. In attendance and voting were: Kyle Davis, Edward Lipski, Jon Schnell Anand Shukla (late). Also in attendance were Supervisor Michael Gallagher and residents John Bradley and Jim Bowe.

Call to Order: The Meeting was called to order at 7:30 PM.

Introductions: The members introduced themselves. Messrs. Bradley and Bowe said that they were interested in becoming involved with the committee and offered their assistance although they have not yet been appointed by the Supervisors.

Organization of Committee: Mr. Lipski moved to appoint himself to continue as chairman and Mr. Shukla to continue as vice chairman. Mr. Davis seconded and the motion passed 3-0.

Mr. Shukla arrived at this point.

Approval of Minutes: The recording secretary explained that, as there was not a quorum at the November 30, 2010 meeting, the notes taken are not minutes and did not need to be formally voted on, only reviewed for possible corrections or clarifications before posting.

The members agreed that the notes were accurate.

New Business

Developing a Multi-Year IT Plan: Mr. Lipski explained that at the last meeting it was agreed that the Committee would develop a plan to be used as both a guide for the future and a tool to augment technology budget planning and possibly for seeking grants. Any consideration of the other projects the Committee had discussed, such as improving the Web site, developing a site for the Tax Collector, streaming video of Township meetings, enhanced use of technology during Township broadcasts, could be part of this long term plan. The notes taken at the last meeting could be used as a template going forward. Once a plan is drafted, the Committee would ask the Supervisors to adopt the plan to be used as a basis for future budget planning.

Mr. Lipski noted that the Township budget does include replacement of the Docstar server in 2011. The question for this committee to consider is whether to continue with the current, outdated, version, upgrade or switch to another document management system.

Mr. Bowe said that he has been a volunteer on many of the Township’s committees, boards and commissions over many years. The Technology Committee is relatively new and the Township has not clearly defined a mission and goals for the Committee; the members should expect to bring ideas to the Supervisors and the Township manager.

Mr. Schnell said that he has some experience with IT plans and would research municipal plans. It would be best to start with the Township’s mission and goals, so that every recommendation in the plan can be seen as working toward those goals.

The members agreed to begin the project with defining the mission, vision, goals and objectives of the Township and then of the committee. When considering the goals of the Township, in addition to the various departments, the committees, board and commissions and their work should also be included.

Mr. Bowe noted that an example of helping a committee through technology might be investigating the use of teleconference for the Township’s committee members who are unable to attend a meeting in person.

To determine how the Committee can help the employees and the departments, Mr. Bowe suggested a survey.

Mr. Gallagher arrived at this point.

Going forward, the members decided that each of them would take the lead on a particular task or project, all working toward the goal of developing the IT long term plan. It was agreed that the members would use some kind of document sharing.

Mr. Bowe suggested that the members use SharePoint. He will be teaching a class this semester on SharePoint use. He would arrange for his students to do a tutorial on SharePoint for the next meeting, possibly doing the demonstration remotely.

The members agreed that they would begin to meet twice each month from home using Mr. Bowe’s “Go to Meeting.” After the regular February meeting, the Committee would continue with twice monthly “Go to Meeting” sessions from home and meet in person for a public meeting quarterly. A schedule would be arranged at the February public meeting.

The following tasks were agreed to:

  • “Go to Meeting” – Mr. Bowe would arrange the invitations for Tuesday, February 8, 2011 at 7:30 PM for the first internet meeting.
  • Document development – Mr. Shukla would investigate the temporary use of Google Docs to get started.
  • SharePoint – Mr. Bowe would arrange the demonstration. He has a license. Mr. Gallagher would speak to Mr. Herr about the Township’s SharePoint license. The Google Docs documents would then be transferred to SharePoint for future work.
  • Survey – Mr. Shukla and Mr. Bradley would begin drafting questions.

A number of projects which might become part of the IT Plan, but could be pursued separately were discussed, including:

  • Helping the Financial Planning Committee review accounting software specifically designed or easily adapted for municipal accounting.
  • Projecting electronic documents directly to the television screen during the Supervisors meetings.
  • Upgrading the Web site’s capabilities and appearance.

Mr. Bradley said that sometimes it is helpful to collect information from others who are trying to do the same things. He suggested that through PSATS or other government organizations, the Committee might ask other municipalities about their Web sites, IT Plans and accounting software.

Mr. Shukla and Mr. Gallagher agreed to work on an e-mail reaching out to the other large municipalities in the eastern part of the State.Mr. Schnell moved to adjourn at 9:00 PM. Mr. Davis seconded and the motion passed 40.

 

Respectfully Submitted:

 

Mary Donaldson, Recording Secretary