Board buying software to improve meeting packets and transparency

FLINT TWP. — The City of Burton has it. So does Atlas Township and other municipalities across the state and nation. Now Flint Township also soon will have Accela

Software that will accelerate information dissemination.

Accela Software will streamline the compilation of board packets and also fully integrate materials from each department said Clerk Kathy Funk.

Under the existing system, it can take several hours to a full day or more to compile a board agenda, depending on how much business there is and how quickly needed information trickles in from various sources Funk said.

“With Accela Software, you can see what is going on in “real time” as information is submitted.,” she said. “An agenda takes less than a minute to compose; board packets are compiled with a touch of a button. No longer will staff have to struggle making copies, scanning, applying watermarks, and then disseminating the information, hoping that all goes well with the email process.”

The software also will be useful in drafting minutes and can be cross-linked to meeting videos so that board members and residents can click on an action item and fast-forward directly to the specific part sought.

She added that Deputy Clerk Tracey Tucker also favors using the software to prepare the agenda and packets for the Zoning Board of Appeals and the Planning Commission.

The township board voted 6-1 in favor of purchasing the software for about $14,950. Trustee Barb Vert voted no.

“As good at this sounds, I am not going to support this,”said Vert, who frequently opposes unbudgeted board spending. “We have made a lot of budget amendments so far this year – over $100,000. I think at this time we need to slow down a little bit with our spending.”

Township Supervisor said that it is the first budget amendment for 2017 and that those to which Vert referred were from late last year. She said the board underspent its 2016 budget by about $290,000 which went back to the general fund.

“I think this is a great use of money,’” Miller said, noting that it will improve efficiency and timeliness.

The software is also cloud-based which will free up space on the township hard drive.

“This is the next step the Township needs to take in going from “paper heavy” to a more environmentally-friendly, resident-friendly, user-friendly. Board-friendly process,” Funk said.

She provided an example of a Burton City Council agenda and also links to other municipalities in Michigan that use the software.

Trustee Tom Klee said he checked out the Burton site. He responded favorably to the software’s ability to reduce wage costs and also provide greater transparency to residents who can access the software online to see board packet information.

Funk mentioned that during busy election times, the clerk’s office has had to hire a temporary worker to help with the clerical workload. She said Accela software will save time and money by eliminating that job.

Funds to pay for the software via a budget amendment will be charged to New Equipment — Clerk’s Department. An annual fee to use the software will be incorporated into next year’s budget, Funk said.

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