Council to receive tablet computers, talks technology

Although not yet in hand, tablet computers were a topic of conversation around the Homer City Council’s table during the council’s regular meeting Monday.

With digital communication seen by the city as a necessity for conducting business, a tablet usage policy outlined steps for the proper use of digital communication. 

Originally on the consent agenda, Resolution 13-035 was removed and made part of the regular agenda by council member Beau Burgess in order for the council to discuss the policy.

Specifically Burgess wanted to make amendments to the policy that clarified who was financially liable for damage or loss of the tablets.

“As much as I enjoy being an elected official, I am not comfortable with the liability imposed as currently written,” said Burgess. “My only intention here is not to incur more personal financial liability than a year’s salary (as a council member).”  

He and council member Bryan Zak introduced several amendments that were approved by the council:

• The usage policy recognizes the city’s requirement for a system to preserve as public record city officials’ electronic communications.

• Tablet recipients are responsible for all material they knowingly send or store-install on the tablets. 

• The city is not liable for inappropriate materials sent by and-or stored on the tablets that fall outside the scope of the expected use by a city official.

• Tablet recipients agree to conduct all email communications stored on the device through their assigned city email accounts.

• Tablet recipients are prohibited from syncing their personal email accounts to the device other than their assigned city email accounts.

• The tablets may only be used for limited personal use that does not interfere with the ability of the device to be used for official intended purposes.

• Applications for personal use not interfering with city use may be allowed by the IT manager on a case-by-case basis.

• Tablet recipients are encouraged to keep the device safe and in good working order; if a user demonstrates extreme negligence or loses a replacement device within 18 months of being issued a replacement, he or she shall be financially responsible for the cost of the replacement.

Also removed from the consent agenda so that pertinent information could be added was Resolution 13-036, awarding a contract to make noise reduction and energy consumption improvements to the vestibule of the Homer Public Library. After adding the contractor’s name, Mark’s Drywall Inc. of Anchor Point, and the amount, $7,570, the resolution was approved by the council.

Also approved by the council at its Monday meeting:

• Resolution 13-033, development of a new east-west transportation corridor through Homer’s central business district by continuing Waddell Way to Heath Street, one of three recommendations in the city’s 2005 Transportation Plan;

• Ordinance 13-08, appropriating up to $110,000 for the repair of flood damage at the Waste Water Treatment Plant and implementing mitigation measures (the insurance policy in effect has a $100,000 deductible);

• Ordinance 13-09, establishing a project budget for administration and direct services supporting the Homer Natural Gas Distribution System Special Assessment. It includes personnel and labor, equipment, vehicle expenses, mailing, copying, advertising, recording and a contingency fee for a total of $539,368.

“Just so the public can understand, these funds were included in the amount we had borrowed from the borough and bonded, specifically dedicated to administration oversight,” said Burgess. “This amount was already included. These aren’t additional funds we’re trying to raise or borrow.”

The Homer City Council meets for a work session at 5:15 p.m. April 15. The agenda includes tablet training and the Kachemak Drive Trail.

McKibben Jackinsky can be reached at