commissioner’s column: Kelly Fraasch
In high school, I remember being in one of the first classes to go to the computer lab to try this new thing called Microsoft Windows. Wow, has technology come a long way since then! I would like to share some thoughts about having Mt. Lebanon invest in becoming a little more tech-savvy.
I believe with some initial investment, we could improve communication, save money, be more green, be more efficient and gain some marketing enhancements all for Mt. Lebanon.
IMPROVE COMMUNICATION I believe our excuses have run out about not having commission meetings online. They should be available and noted on our Mt. Lebanon website. The public should be given access to our meetings right away as a live stream and we should have an archiving system so residents can access the meetings at any time.
With upgrades in our system to allow for meetings to be placed online, I would expect all board meetings (i.e. library, parks advisory, environmental sustainability) to be recorded and stored on our website. The public needs to have the opportunity to be involved and hear from these specialized boards. Community board members fill a vital role in this community and as commissioners we need to ensure their voices are heard.
My hope is to also have the commission implement a recommended, online program that would allow residents to contribute to commission meetings by asking questions right up until the start of a meeting. It might extend our time in the chambers, but not by much, and it would allow for busy families and seniors who otherwise are unable to attend regular meetings to be involved, which would be worth every minute.
One of the most frustrating issues as a commissioner is how little many of our residents understand about local government processes and the value each resident has in that process. I firmly believe more interaction with our residents would help us (in local government) do things better.
SAVING MONEY I was outside in my front yard talking to neighbors one Friday when a Mt. Lebanon staff member pulled up with my packet. The typical 3- to 5-inch-thick packet bursts with hundreds of papers and each commissioner gets one of these packets delivered to their home. My neighbors could not believe the paper. I think it’s time to go paperless. After some initial costs, just imagine the paper and time that would be saved. Staff would no longer have to pull the packets together, copy and/or deliver.
And as a community that prides itself on being environmentally aware, using less paper seems like a step that would move our efforts in a positive direction. It’s just one aspect of investing in technology and going green. If the school board has made a successful move to going paperless, the commission can too.
Some of the other neighboring communities, such as Green Tree, have everything for their board packets on an iPad or tablet computer. The use of their tablet allows them to work at a much faster pace, which is expected for the 21st century. I think field staff and commissioners should have access to this option so they can manage their job responsibilities more efficiently.
GAIN MARKETING EXPERIENCES Our website has been nicely renovated with a new background and more user-friendly features. I tend to surf the internet a bit to see what is out there for communities to showcase their assets. For example, Sewickley has a partnership with Village Green Partners that launched a new marketing campaign, Explore Sewickley, that has an economic development focus. Another example is Cranberry Township, which has a webpage dedicated to international diversity. Click on a country that you are coming from and a simple listing of suggestions pops up to help with your transition. Mt. Lebanon is a first home in America for a large group of residents and this could be an excellent resource.
If we can raise the bar on how we serve the community through new technology enhancements, I am confident we can do more with less.
As a commissioner, I am personally challenging myself to continue a blog from my website at www.kellyfraasch.com to discuss local issues that are important to residents and our community.