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Software could provide better management of public documents

By LAURA FREEMAN Reporter Published: May 21, 2017 12:00 AM

HUDSON -- Not only will city workers be able to access documents easier, citizens' requests for public records could be faster.

Paul Leedham, chief innovation officer for information services and Broadband Velocity, explained the need for new software to store and share documents for the city at the May 9 City Council workshop.

"This is a content management software," Leedham said. "We've set Hudson aside as high tech with Velocity Broadband, but we're still using a lot of paper. We don't have to do that. This is a need and if we don't do it now, it's inevitable we will have to do it in the future."

Two years ago, officials looked at the city departments and decided a platform was needed to manage all the documents in a digital format, Leedham said.

Some documents must be kept by law, but the records need to be managed for public record requests and officials determined there needed to be an easier mechanism to find needed documents, he added.

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The Onbase Enterprise Content Management software, which will cost the city $55,182 in the first year, addresses the issue of paper expense, including storage, Leedham said. The seven major licenses costs $650 each and would limit access and control to the software while others would be able to "read only" documents.

Leedham said he spoke to other cities who use the same software and received positive feedback.

A public records request in the past could take four hours to find a few pages, longer if the records were stored offsite, said Communications Manager Jody Roberts.

Although the savings in offsite storage would be $6,790, the savings in time employees need to retrieve records for public requests is estimated to be $13,500, Roberts said. With the public able to access records and quicker access by employees, city staff can spend time on other tasks in the city.

Finance Director Jeff Knoblauch said with the new software, anyone, including the public, can search for a document electronically instead of physically retrieving it or making a public request.

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City Manager Jane Howington said the problem is the backlog of historical documents in storage.

"They are all in separate files in the different departments so one department can't view a document in another department," Howington said.

When someone requests information, it's a major task to pull documents, sometimes off site, she said.

Hudson is required by law to maintain some city documents, Knoblauch said. Some of the city's paper documents date back before the city and township merged in 1994.

At one time the Koberna house in southern Hudson was the city's storage place for documents, Howington said. All the boxes were removed and had to be sanitized because of all the rats, mice and bugs in the house.

"For years we had them in storage," Howington said. "Two years ago we said 'no more' and brought boxes back and went through them. We've almost got through all of them but there were hundreds of them."

Some were permanent records and had to retained, she said. Others could be thrown away.

The Record Retention Board, which meets twice a year, reviews lists made by each department of what they want destroyed, Howington said.

Hudson discusses re-joining county's anti-poaching effort

Also at the meeting, Council members reviewed the Summit County Intergovernmental Memorandum of Understanding for Job Creation and Retention and Tax Revenue Sharing.

Hudson, along with 21 other communities in Summit County, is listed in the cooperative agreement.

Under the agreement, if a company moves from one member community to another, the destination community must share the company's tax revenue for a limited time with the abandoned community if the move leaves a significant revenue loss or the business received incentives or financial assistance to move.

"There was a belief that each community was going out to steal businesses and used incentives unfairly," Howington said, calling it an anti-poaching policy. "You could only give incentives for additional jobs but a neighbor could give incentives for all jobs as well as tax abatements, and it created an unfair playing field."

Each community's officials must vote to be part of the agreement each year. Hudson has been a part of it since 2011. The agreement is due for renewal in September.

Last year, Hudson's former economic development director, Chuck Wiedie, introduced a change to the agreement clarifying the communities' intent to not rob other communities of businesses and to compete equally with each other via incentives.

A community cannot count existing jobs at the time of the move toward a job creation grant but only new jobs, according to the change introduced by Wiedie. The home community could offer a similar incentive for new jobs. A business would base its move on location more than incentives.

The levels of payment depend on how aggressive the poaching is, said Council President Hal DeSaussure. If a business didn't plan to leave, there is more compensation. It's worked well for Hudson, which was compensated when a business was lured from the city by another agreement member, DeSaussure added.

Council member Alex Kelemen said he was against the agreement.

"I'm not a big fan of the county," Kelemen said. "I don't need to make nice with them."

Email: lfreeman@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9434

Twitter: @LauraFreeman_RP

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