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District of Maple Ridge going paperless

After some worrying about the costs, Maple Ridge council has decided to spend $561,888 to better manage its paper and electronic records, joining other municipalities in the way it manages its files.

Council OK’d the three-year project Tuesday after first discussing it at its workshop.

Annual maintenance costs will add another $73,000.

Coun. Al Hogarth though was worried about getting locked into a deal with a company after which the district would be forced to upgrade its systems, at a costly price.

“To me, sometimes we get held up for ransom. I think the costs will be more than what we’re looking at here,” he said Monday.

However, the district has been planning for such a conversion since 2000. It makes sense to do it now, after computer and software costs have dropped, said finance general manager Paul Gill. Maple Ridge’s information flow was discussed a decade ago, he added.

Moving to a completely computerized system will save staff time, such as when processing freedom of information requests, corporate support director John Bastaja told council. Laserfiche has provided the software for 30 per cent of municipalities and has been doing so since 1987, he added.

Coun. Cheryl Ashlie though wanted staff to compute how much the district would save by going completely digital.

“I would expect there would have to be savings.” Council agreed later to get staff to track the costs and savings of the software.

And Coun. Mike Morden also wanted definite numbers. The project could “blow up” and cost more. “There’s too much unknown here for comfort.”

But chief administrator Jim Rule said at some point the district has to “bite the bullet” and move to complete computerization of records management.

Coun. Corisa Bell, who co-owns a software company, said Maple Ridge is a “technological dinosaur” saying that 20 other cities are using the software.

“The reality is, we have to do this,” Coun. Judy Dueck said at workshop.

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