During Tuesday's Polk County Board of Commissioners meeting, plans for remodeling the boardroom and adding technology brought about quite a debate.
The original proposal involved not only remodeling the existing room at the Polk County Government Center to make it more user-friendly, but also purchasing an Apple iPad for each commissioner. It was the intent that meeting information would be made available for the commissioners via their iPad prior to and during each meeting, eliminating the need for a large paper packet. Video screens would also be put in place to allow the public to view the documents seen by the commissioners.
With a preliminary cost of over $12,000 for the physical remodel and another $5,000 to $10,000 in technology costs, several of the commissioners had concerns about investing a significant amount of money that had not been built into this year's budget. Commissioner Warren Strandell, of East Grand Forks, suggested, "moving forward with the iPad first."
Commissioner Warren Affeldt, of Fosston, disagreed, saying, "We're moving too fast on this stuff. We're spending money like a drunken sailor."
After much discussion and feedback from the facilities department, a motion was made by Commissioner Don Diedrich, of Warren, to update the board room with extra effort focused on keeping costs down. Wiring would be put in place for future IT needs, but iPads would not be purchased at this time. Commissioner Strandell seconded the motion, which passed unanimously.
The project is slated to begin within the next few months. According to Chuck Whiting, Polk County administrator, it may be possible to cover remodeling costs out of unspent funds leftover from the demolition of the former Professional Building.