City seeks to improve online services

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City staff is proposing to spend $10,000 to add new services to its Web site and to make maintaining it easier.

Using interest from a Beanpole Project grant, money coming from surrounding municipalities, and its own contribution, the city is proposing to spend $26,000 to $28,000 on a software development project that could be used by three counties.

"It would make it easier for people to maintain, change and update the Web pages and provide more information online in a consistent and easy manner," City Deputy Manager Wendy DuBord said.

DuBord will bring the proposal to the City Council at tonight's meeting.

Expanding the city's e-government services would mean providing an electronic newsletter, online surveys, online opinion polls, online map ordering, and expanding the service for requests for proposals and bids online.

"We can add new services without a lot of special knowledge and training," DuBord said.

The last step in the project, DuBord said, would be adding features that would allow residents to make payments online. That service would first have to be reviewed and approved by the finance department to make sure it is cost-effective.

She pointed to government Web sites in bigger municipalities throughout the state where parks and recreation registration, purchasing bus passes and downloading permit applications can be done online. The city already has a few online services, such as putting its agendas and minutes online, a PAL line for resident comments and a list of where projects are in the planning department.

"It is just that every time we try to add or change (the Web site), it is a little labor intensive," she said.

By combining the purchasing power of municipalities in Moffat, Routt and Rio Blanco counties, DuBord said they could contract with a custom programming service rather than buying a system that already was developed and paying for ongoing annual maintenance and support charges.

The Colorado Department of Local Affairs and the Yampa Valley Economic Development Council have authorized $12,000 from the interest earned on the Beanpole grant to be used on the project.

The Beanpole Project is part of a state-funded technology initiative to bring high-speed Internet access to every county seat in the state and then spread the connection to public facilities such as government buildings, schools and libraries.

Almost three years ago, the state gave Northwest Colorado a $1.37 million grant to spend on start-up hardware and services. The city has been the administrative agent for the project.

Along with the city's $10,000 and the Beanpole fund's $12,000, other municipalities are anticipated to contribute between $4,000 and $6,000.

The city was willing to pay for the lion's share of the project, DuBord said, because it feels it has the most services it wants to bring online immediately.

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