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City's Web site found lacking
The city of Oak Harbors official Web site, oakharbor.org, comes under the category of useless or just plain lame.
City staff recently recommended doing something to change that, but it could cost up to $19,000 in unbudgeted funds. The city council will discuss a proposal to hire a company, Business Internet Services, to redesign the citys Web site at the April 8 meeting.
In his proposal, Finance Director Doug Merriman wrote that the current Web site has no benefit to the community or the city. He pointed out that this doesnt conform with the citys mission statement, which states the city is committed to delivering quality services to its citizens in the most effective manner.
The citys Web site currently lists the city council members and the mayor, the city hall address as well as quoting the mission statement. It also has a way for people to e-mail the city in order to have a tourism and relocation packet sent to them. The site used to have links to pages for city departments and the city council meeting agenda, which was usually outdated, but those have disappeared.
Oak Harbors Web site seems especially pitiful when compared to those of comparable-sized cities. The Anacortes and Mount Vernon sites, for example, are much more complete, with information about city departments, elected officials and meetings. Mount Vernon even has an abridged version of the citys budget online.
Probably the best thing about Oak Harbors web site is the simplicity of the site address. (Check out www.cityofanacortes.org and www.ci.mount-vernon.wa.us)
Merriman proposed that the citys site could have information about city services, such as permitting requirements and budget information; public safety messages; community involvement activities, including special events; meeting schedules; and even a way for folks to pay utility bills online.
City officials have already contacted Business Internet Services, a company that was highly recommended by a public information officer for Bellevue. The company proposed two different designs. The first proposal includes 15 pages for a total of $17,850, plus $1,500 for contingencies. The second proposal has eight pages and costs $13,600 with $1,500 for contingencies. City staff recommended more expensive option in order to fulfill the citys mission statement.
The cost of the proposal is likely to raise eyebrows among the cost-conscious council members. Merriman suggested that the cost of the redesign could be shared by the general fund reserve and other funds.
You can reach News-Times reporter Jessie Stensland at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 675-6611.