News

Web site upgrade costing $19,000

Someday soon Oak Harbor residents with a computer and internet access will be able to pay water and garbage bills online, peruse city meeting schedules or even check out the status of permits.

The Oak Harbor City Council unanimously voted to make a $19,000 investment in the city’s Web site during the Tuesday night meeting. The new and improved Web site, at www.oakharbor.org, will include 15 web pages and secure e-commerce capabilities.

City Finance Director Doug Merriman proposed hiring Business Internet Services to remodel the city’s Web site, which is currently only one page of information. Merriman said the company has a lot of experience with Web site development for governmental entities. The company created sites for the Port of Tacoma, Pierce County and the Puyallup Fair.

Merriman said several local “network solutions companies” contacted the city about the Web site creation, but he said none of them had experience with e-commerce sites. He added that security for e-commerce is very important, which is why he went to an experienced professional.

Councilman Richard Davis said he supported the remodel of the Web site, but he questioned whether it’s ambitious enough. “Maybe we’re not thinking big enough,” he said, adding that the city shouldn’t be “nickel-and-diming it.”

At the same time, Davis pointed out that there are many other costs associated with the Web site, such as licensing fees, upkeep and staff training. “If anyone believes this will cost only $20,000 and we’re set for the next five years, you’re pipe dreaming,” he said.

According to Merriman, the site will cost $1,140 a year in licensing fees. He said the company will help train staff or possibly a local computer business to “troubleshoot” and update the site.

“This will establish the base platform,” he said, “and we can expand on that as we need it.”

Mayor Patty Cohen said the upgraded site will be a boon to residents. “This is really about access to City Hall,” she said, “with the idea that every household will have access.”

You can reach News-Times reporter Jessie Stensland at jstensland@whidbeynewstimes.com or call 675-6611.

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