The city of Keizer has unveiled a new public records retrieval system that is touted as saving thousands of dollars and more effectively serving residents.

For years the city’s record searching system at required downloading and installing software before allowing users to open documents one page at a time. This proved cumbersome to users who were seeking a page out of a budget or council packet that could be hundreds of pages long. Files were downloaded in a format more common among photographers and graphic designers than city recorders and councilors.

“It makes it a lot easier for people to read them,” said Deputy City Recorder Debbie Lockhart.

And if you were using a non-Windows based system, good luck: Apple and Linux users were out in the cold.

The new system, provided by the firm Kentucky Underground Storage – allows virtually any computer user with a modern web browser to inspect and download budgets, financial statements, meeting minutes and staff reports from as far back as the 1990s.

And while local policy wonks and journalists may enjoy the change (newsrooms are dominated by Macintoshes), money ultimately was the reason for the switch – a savings of some $6,270 annually, Lockhart said. The new system will cost about $400 a month, down from $960, and the provider was planning a substantial price hike, she said.

While many of the documents are uploaded, the full process has not yet been completed, Lockhart said. Optical character recognition (OCR) scanning will let users search for specific words within a document.

“Let’s say you were looking for every document that had the word ‘dog’ in it,” Lockhart said. “Eventually we hope you can open a document and every word you’ve searched for is highlighted in that document.”