Tofino’s Elected Officials Laptop Computer Policy will be officially repealed at the start of December.
The purpose of the bylaw, which was adopted in 2005, was to ensure elected officials had access to laptop computers to access online information like council agendas and emails, according to a report submitted by Tofino’s director of financial services Nyla Attiana. “The policy states that the laptop will remain the property of the district of Tofino throughout the term of office and upon completion of the term, the elected official’s laptop will become their personal property,” the report read.
“The council term has increased to four years from three years causing some concern as to whether the devices will last a full four years. Conversely, as durability of devices improves it may be possible to span multiple council terms.”
Attiana’s report laid out that by repealing the existing policy, each councillor will still receive a “computer device” at the start of each term but the type of device they receive will be up to staff.
The new policy also dictates that each device will remain the property of the district and will be returned to the district after each term or upon a councillor’s resignation.
“By remaining the property of the district of Tofino, the computer device can be refurbished and reused for the next council term and new devices won’t necessarily have to be purchased for each councillor at the beginning of a term,” Attiana wrote.
“Devices will be purchased on an as needed basis which allows for purchases to be spread out rather than to occur in one financial year.”
Council reviewed Attiana’s report during last week’s regular council meeting and agreed to repeal the policy but Coun. Dorothy Baert questioned the need for each councillor to return their device at the end of their term.
She said technology moves quickly and by the end of each term the device would not hold much value.
She added that “information gets put on the machines that could be proprietorial to the individual who used it during their term.”
District CAO Bob Mac-Pherson said the devices have information belonging to the district as well. “From the district’s perspective, devices do have information that belongs to the district on them and after somebody leaves council we should have the ability to make sure that that doesn’t get out into the bigger world,” he said.
He suggested repealing the policy would help stagger costs rather than arbitrarily hitting the district’s budget in each election year.
“If we look at the devices that council now has…We expect these devices have a little more life in them however the current policy is we would simply just replace them all and I’m not sure that ‘s the best expenditure of the district’s funds,” he said. Mayor Josie Osborne agreed with the moneysaving measure and noted the upcoming election will have at least four incumbents returning to their seats next term.
“Four of us at this table will be returning in December. Should the devices automatically be replaced? Right now the policy says yes they would automatically be replaced; so this is a way of incurring some cost savings,” she said.
She added repealing the policy would also allow damaged or outdated devices to be replaced before the end of term.
Baert and Coun. Duncan McMaster both suggested that the new policy include a way for councillors to purchase their device at the end of their term.
MacPherson noted the change would not take effect until Dec. 10 and would not affect council’s current devices.
“These devices would follow the existing policy and individual councillors will own them at the end of this term,” he said.
Tofino’s councillors currently use iPads and Coun. Cathy Thicke wondered if the change in policy could include a change in device.
“The iPad in this case is not, in my opinion, the best choice,” she said.
MacPherson said the type of device council will receive is being reviewed by staff.
“We are reviewing what would be the most effective tool for council to have and I think there is some concern among staff that what you’ve had for the last three years is probably not the right tool for the job,” he said.
“We’re talking to our provider about what might best integrate with the rest of the district’s information technology…A Mac in a world where everything else is PC based gives us a little bit of pause.”