Poolesville to revamp Web presence -- Gazette.Net


Poolesville’s online presence is taking a “leap into the future” with the approval of a contract with a website-building firm.

Civic Plus, based in Kansas, designs and builds websites for municipal governments. The company has contracted with the cities of Frederick and Bowie in recent months.

The town commissioners chose Civic Plus from a shortlist of six bidders. On Monday evening, the majority of the commissioners voted to sign the contract with Civic Plus at a price of about $20,000 initially and $3,300 for continuing services over the next few years.

According to town manager Wade Yost, Poolesville’s website was last redesigned in 2007 and is currently managed in-house.

“Our [webpages] have a very early-’90s look to them,” town commissioner Chuck Stump said.

Civic Plus would provide a content management system for the town’s government to use, but the commissioners and town staff would be left to run the site.

The new site’s features would help make communication between residents and staff, and between commissioners and residents, more efficient, according to Stump.

“A lot of what we do is email-based or pencil-and-paper based,” he said.

Stump, who spoke to representatives for each of the shortlisted firms, said Civic Plus stood out because it provides a “citizen portal,” where residents can submit complaints and requests.

Work orders for things like potholes and dark street lights often originate from calls or emails from residents, Yost said. With the new website, those orders could all be handled electronically.

“It’s going to streamline a lot of things,” Yost said.

Stump detailed the features of the new site at the commissioners’ meeting. The town could take advantage of public calendars, polls and live video feeds of town meetings, among other services.

One of the town’s priorities for the new website is getting information to residents on a timely basis. Stump said news alerts for events like water main breaks could be directed to residents who give addresses close to that area. A section for business listings on the website would also need to be updated and current, he said.

On the town’s current site, residents can pay water bills and check permit schedules for parks. It also provides forms for residents to fill out that will notify town staff of maintenance needs. The town’s meeting minutes are also archived in PDF form on the site, but the commissioners do not currently broadcast meetings.

“It’s probably a little bit of a leap into the future, considering where we’ve been,” said town commissioners’ president Jim Brown.

Rockville-based marketing firm Van Eperen, recently hired by the town to put together a communications strategy, may collaborate with the commissioners and town staff on a theme and slogans for the site, Stump said.

Representatives for Civic Plus did not return requests for comment before press time.