Council to consider laptops

Wicomico County Council members are considering buying laptop computers, a move they say would cut down on the printing out bulky briefing books before meetings.

"The bottom line, of course, will be the cost," Council President Gail Bartkovich said.

The current practice is to print out copies for all 7 council members, members of the law office and executive's office employees, Council Administrator Matt Creamer said. Printing costs add up; it's not unusual for each briefing book to top 100 pages, he said.

This past week, the council met with IT Director Ray Micciche to discuss buying Windows-based laptops. Inquiries about buying Apple's iPads or MacBooks were made briefly, but they did not gain much traction because the county uses Microsoft's operating system and iPads aren't compatible with the Microsoft office suite.

Micciche is supposed to get back to the council with a cost estimate before its April 5 meeting. Given a rough estimate so far, he said the least expensive PC would be $400, but that cost may more than double when adding in software, disk drives and security features.

Bartkovich said council members would have to give up the laptops when their term is over. She said a laptop would increase her productivity because it's easier to carry the slim-sized device than lug around overstuffed binders of information.

He told each council member that he or she should create a log-in password so if the laptop gets lost, a person can't sign in. He said hackers have their ways around that, but security would foil the average person.

"I personally get tired of having to carry around reams of paper," Bartkovich said. "I bring bags full of paper from the brief book to recycle."

Wicomico County Executive Rick Pollitt and spokesperson Jim Fineran have county-issued laptops, Fineran said.

However, in the legislative branch, government laptops are less common. The Salisbury City Council and Worcester and Somerset County Commissioners do not use laptops, according to officials with those governments.

Worcester spokesperson Kim Moses said that at one time, the school system gave laptops to new teachers as a hiring incentive. But that has since been cut from the budget.

Creamer said money for the laptops would come out of this year's budget for the council.


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