Just weeks before the San Luis Obispo City Council is scheduled to decide which harsh cuts will be necessary to balance the city’s shrinking budget, the council decided there were some things the city shouldn’t do without: iPads.
The council approved spending $6,500 on iPads at its May 17 meeting. The money will buy nine 64 GB tablets for $722 each. The iPads will be loaned to citizen juries that choose which art projects will be funded by the city. City staff said the iPads would be put to use when not being used by art juries.
Shelly Stanwyck, Parks and Recreation director, told the council the iPads were needed to save paper. She said the city spends thousands of dollars making copies of project applications and then handing them out to the art juries.
Councilmember Andrew Carter pointed out that thumb drives are available with nearly as much memory as an iPad for less than $50, and the applications could then be viewed on the judges’ home computers.
“This solution seems like a contemporary and environmentally friendly solution,” Stanwyck said. “Our jurors often don’t have computers and when they do there are compatibility problems with different types of computers.”
Though some City Council members wondered if using money from the city’s public art fund for buying iPads for art jurors was proper, all but Carter voted to approve the purchase. The iPad purchase was part of a $95,000 outlay from the public arts fund for art projects. This included $22,000 for 12 new utility box paint jobs, $35,000 for a mural at the city library, and $30,000 for a mural at the Santa Rosa Skate Park.
The council will be making big decisions on the next two-year budget in June. On May 20, the city staff released its latest revision to the preliminary budget plan that calls for $2.6 million in staff salary and benefit cuts, $500,000 more than original proposed. City employees are worried that the “Gang of Three”—the nickname some city workers have given to the most strident budget cutters, council members Carter, Dan Carpenter, and Kathy Smith—may insist on more job cuts. As it stands, 13 positions are proposed for elimination to help balance the next budget.