By Angelo Parlove, firstname.lastname@example.org
After months of discussion by city council and staff, the City of Saline’s electronic communication policy – pertaining to the use of electronic devices – was finally approved last week.
City council and staff had debated the development of the policy at work and regular meetings since mid April, with the discussions at times including legal counsel and the city’s technology support coordinator Chris Shonk.
“It’s been thoroughly reviewed by council and staff as well,” City Manager Todd Campbell told council moments before the new policy was narrowly approved by city council 4-3 at their regular meeting Sept. 18.
The approved policy applies to all “City Public Servants” when performing duties for, acting on behalf of, or representing the city. “It applies to all electronic communications on any devices when so acting and to all use on any City-owned electronic devices at any time,” the policy states.
The new policy then covers council use of social media, which raised concerns from Council Members Janet Dillon and Christen Mitchell. Dillon said she did not like the language that restricts city council use on social media as well as the penalties, such as dismissal and removal from office, which the policy could call for.
“I am still not in favor of this policy,” she said. “I just don’t feel as though this policy would warrant that level. It is so open ended it could be interpreted in a lot of ways.”
Mitchell said she shared the same concerns as Dillon. Mitchell, Dillon and Council Member Dean Girbach all voted against adopting the electronic communication policy.
In mid April, the city began discussing the policy after Girbach proposed issuing tablets to council members in order for council to receive their board packets electronically. The often large packets had been traditionally paper packets that were hand delivered to council members’ home by the police department.
Electronic packets are expected to cut staff hours in preparing them as well as serve as a more green option.