Saratoga Springs ditches the paper

The Saratoga Springs City Council has accepted a $56,000 grant from the state Archives and Records Administration that will allow the council and land-use boards to go paperless.

The grant will allow residents and city officials to store, submit and review city forms and minutes online.

Procuring the grant was spearheaded by Accounts Commissioner John Franck, whose department is responsible for city records.

Whether you're into the green initiatives or just efficiency in general, we felt this program would be a good idea, he said.

Nancy Wagner, the city's records retention coordinator, spent a week writing the grant. The city received 100 percent funding, a rarity in this particular grant process, she said.

Only 30 percent of grant applications were accepted, said Wagner, and of that 30 percent, many were not fully funded.

"SARA believes in us," Wagner said.

Wagner pointed out at the Tuesday, July 17, council meeting that it would make life easier for the volunteer members of the planning board, zoning board of appeals and design review commission, to have information available to them 24 hours a day,

"If you want to get up at 2 a.m. and review something for the next meeting, you can do that," she said.

The grant could make the process easier for applicants as well, said Wagner.

She said a business could simply hand the city a CD-ROM with their plans on it.

Franck said it could also speed up business at land-use board meetings.

"Just to take the maps off the wall and put the maps on for the next group takes five to 10 minutes," said Franck.

"This is great," said Public Safety Commissioner Ron Kim, who previously served on the zoning board. "This is absolutely wonderful."

Mayor Valerie Keehn echoed those sentiments.

"I think this sounds great. Any time we can get rid of paper, it's a good thing," she said.

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