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ALBANY COUNTY—A Democrat and a Republican have proposed a sweeping modernization plan for the legislature that would make its proceedings more accessible to county residents and dramatically reduce paper waste.
The resolution would allow any citizen or media member to track online the status of a proposal from its inception to final disposition. It would also allow immediate online access to members’ votes and attendance records. The modernization plan would provide a searchable database so a constituent could put in a topic (i.e. redistricting) and find the list of votes on the topics, with links to the resolution description and voting histories.
It would also reduce the thousands of sheets of paper used each month for committees and legislative meetings by creating electronic documents for all of them. The public and media would have unfettered access to all such documents.
Co-chairs of the Modernization Task Force, Lynne Lekakis and Mark Grimm, are the resolution’s co-sponsors.
“It is amazing and difficult to calculate just how much time will be saved by staff and legislators, but what is easy to calculate is the impact on interested citizens,” said Deputy Majority Leader Lynne Lekakis (D-Albany). “Imagine being able to easily find information on a proposal that went out last year, or yesterday. It is time for us all to share in the positive technology of the 21st century.”
“Communication today is about transparency and engagement,” said Finance Committee Vice Chair Mark Grimm (R-Guilderland). “This comprehensive plan will make it much easier for citizens to understand and follow what we are doing and therefore more likely to become part of the discussion.”
The resolution (below) was submitted on Thursday, May 3, and will likely be referred to committee for review at the next legislature meeting on Monday, May 14th.
AMENDING THE 2018 BUDGET AND AUTHORIZING THE EXPENDITURE OF FUNDS FROM THE ALBANY COUNTY LEGISLATURE’S COMMUNICATIONS EQUIPMENT LINE REGARDING MODERNIZATION OF THE COUNTY LEGISLATURE
By: Lekakis, Grimm
WHEREAS, This resolution shall be known as the “Legislative Modernization Resolution”
WHEREAS, The County Legislature seeks to perform its duties in the most efficient manner possible and make county government as transparent as possible to better serve its constituents, and
WHEREAS, Cutting-edge technology offers the County Legislature enormous tools to meet those goals if such technology is utilized in an effective and affordable manner, and
WHEREAS, The provision of duplicate paper copies is detrimental to the environment, and the creation and management of such paper copies for committee and legislature meetings is a poor use of staff time, and
WHEREAS, Albany County is already using Granicus software to modernize their operations for the entirety of the Request for Legislative Approval (RLA) process excluding the Legislature, now, therefore be it
RESOLVED, That the 2018 Albany County Budget is amended as follows:
Decrease Appropriation Account A1990 Line Item 44999 Misc Contractual Expense by $59,496
Increase Appropriation Account A1010 Line Item 22050 Communications Equipment by $59,496
and, be it further
RESOLVED, That the existing Granicus contract be modified to include the purchase of the “VoteCast” module which will allow for remote document access, a public and searchable legislative database, electronic voting, and the rapid creation of easily digestible agendas, and, be it further
RESOLVED, That $93,308 from the Legislature’s Communications Equipment line (A 1010 22050) is hereby authorized to purchase the needed equipment, software, and hardware to compliment the software and pay the annual subscription fee of the Granicus VoteCast System, and, be it further
RESOLVED, that the Clerk of the County Legislature is directed to forward certified copies of this resolution to the appropriate County Officials.