[messengers] Bike couriers pedal mail to council members' homes; public foots bill

Date: 18 Nov 2010 12:50:44 +0100
From: Joe Hendry <messvilleto@xxxxxxxxx>

Bike couriers pedal mail to council members' homes; public
foots bill 




By Greg Campbell


Face The State, November 17, 2010 



On Tuesday, the city of Boulder approved a $230 million budget for
2011 that eliminates nearly 20 jobs and raises admission to such amenities as
the city’s recreation centers, pools and Boulder Reservoir. 


What it doesn’t eliminate is a unique perk for City Council:
door-to-door delivery of their city mail and council information packets by
bicycle messenger, paid for with tax dollars. 

The cost of delivering the packages is one of the smaller
line items in the council’s budget, around $2,000 annually. However, the City
Council ran over its $300,000-plus budget by nearly $20,000 in 2008 and by more
than $30,000 in 2009. 


While having the packets delivered weekly via private
bicycle service is unquestionably convenient and in keeping with Boulder’s
eco-mindedness, it raises the question of why council members can’t pick up
their mail themselves (none live farther than 3.4 miles from City Hall, and
some live within easy walking distance) and have their meeting material
e-mailed to them. 


Already, much of the material in City Council agenda packets
is posted online either the same day council members would receive the material
from the bike messengers or soon thereafter. 


City spokesman Patrick Von Keyserling said e-mail doesn’t
work for some materials, such as “large zoning maps and attachments that are
not easily e-mailed.” 


“A courier is used rather than mail as it is more efficient
and timely to deliver agenda packets on a weekly basis and to allow sufficient
time for council to review the materials prior to taking action,” he wrote in
an e-mail. 

isn’t the only city that grapples with delivering hard-to-scan items to its
elected leaders, but not all others use tax money to accomplish it. Fort Collins , for
example, uses volunteer Explorer Scouts from the police department to make the
deliveries (in cars) for free. 


is currently experimenting with going paperless, a solution that would make
most material available to its council members online. Mayor Susan Osborne is
currently testing whether hard-to-scan material like oversized zoning maps can
be read easily on an iPad. Von Keyserling said it’s an arduous process
involving software upgrades across city departments. 


But even if Boulder 
goes paperless and council members can read their material online, it probably
won’t entirely eliminate the bike deliveries. How else would council members
get their mail? 


“There’s a whole collection of things going through the
courier, in addition to just the council agenda items,” he said. “The courier
is also taking a week’s worth of mail, might be taking various study projects
or reports to council that’s not going to be considered at (the next council
meeting), but they need to be familiar with it because they’re dealing with
boards and commissions.”

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