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Technology Saves Money!

Daily Journal of Commerce (for brochure produced by designfirms.org)

The City Clerk is required to post a number of legal notices, including about all legislation approved by the Council.  Some types of legislation are required to be printed in full in a “daily newspaper of general circulation”, to be selected by competitive bid.  Over time, the two requirements had evolved into the policy of printing in full all legislation in the selected newspaper, which for many years has been the Daily Journal of Commerce (DJC). While this newspaper is well known in the business community, and has won the contract fairly and squarely, it is not widely read in most households in Seattle, and every so often there were complaints from members of the public that this was a relatively obscure placement compared to a general circulation daily. However, it would be extraordinarily expensive to print the long texts of all City ordinances in a daily newspaper, so this practice continued despite its limitations. But even printing in the DJC is expensive, and last year as budgets were being cut, Council Central staff and our new City Clerk took a look at the actual requirements for publication, and came up with a new proposal that saves money, while still keeping the legislative texts widely available.  It’s called the ‘Web’, and many of you have undoubtedly heard of it… The solution?  Except where we are legally required to physically print entire texts, publish titles in the DJC with a link, and put the text on the web (where it is already routinely posted anyway).  So simple – and so seemingly obvious, but it required careful review of a whole range of legalese, and then changing a practice that has existed since time immemorial.

dollar sign (image from classichomesnorthwest.com)

Results for the first three months of 2011 are in, and they are dramatic.  In 2010, we spent $47,797.91 publishing legislation.  In 2011?  $1535.64. For the whole year, in 2010 we spent the staggering sum of $468,706.94.  We will save significant amounts of this as a result of this new procedure, but a large part of the expense is associated with required publication associated with the budget, and changes in law will be needed to allow that to migrate to the web.  We will try to advance those next year!
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