Delaware City Council held its first public hearing on the 2011 budget Nov. 22 and scheduled its second public hearing at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 6 and the third and final hearing at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 13.

Delaware City Council held its first public hearing on the 2011 budget Nov. 22 and scheduled its second public hearing at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 6 and the third and final hearing at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 13.

Council member Lisa Keller asked city manager Tom Homan to explore providing laptops to council members in an effort to reduce printed paper used at meetings.

"We are inundated with massive amounts of paperwork," Keller said. "Some of it we keep, some we need to throw away. It seems like it would make a lot of sense for us to get with the program and make this electronic, so we can examine this information without killing all those trees. Would it end up saving some money in the long run not having to photocopy all this stuff?"

Homan said the city had considered providing laptops before, but council members at that time were not interested.

"We had done this analysis once before and the consensus was that council was not ready to go digital," Homan said. "It looks like the consensus now is you are ready to consider that. We just need to let you know what the cost is. I think there's a lot of benefit to it."

Council member Andrew Brush said the state legislature has been using laptops for at least 10 years.

Finance director Dean Stelzer said council chambers was wired to support overhead video display, which would make it easier to present information to the audience, and that laptops would support doing so.

"I'm thinking of some type of device we could take home with us," Keller said. "It would be the city's property. It would allow us to examine these types of documents. And there is quite a bit of work we do, e-mailing with constituents, and it would be nice to be provided with that equipment since we don't have offices or any other means of doing that. Most of us are using our own supplies and such."

Council heard presentations from the police department, administrative services, engineering and public works.

"We have operated at 2008 levels for the last few years. In 2011, we look forward to restoring some of our previous services," said police chief Russ Martin.

The proposed budget would add five new positions, raising the number of personnel from 55.5 to 60.5.

Council also heard a proposal to operate the city's parks and recreation services in conjunction with the YMCA, which would eliminate the need to fill the vacant position of parks and recreation director.

The projected general fund budget for 2011 is $16-million, with an additional $5-million being set up in a separate fund for fire and EMS services following the Nov. 2 approval of an increase in the dedicated income tax for fire services. Previously, the general fund budget was about $21-million annually, including fire services.