By Laura Colvin
Kuna Melba News editor
If everything goes according to plan, the City of Kuna will soon have a new—some say long overdue—and more user-friendly website.
The city council approved a 2013 allocation of $10,000 for the expense during last summer’s budget process, but, after hearing a report from the IT Committee during a council meeting in December, agreed a higher price tag was worth the cost.
“I think we’re at a point of getting modern,” said Mayor Greg Nelson. “They’re costly, but they’re very beneficial and it’s the modern way so we better figure out a way to fund it.”
Residents and local officials alike have long complained the city’s website, cityofkuna.com, is outdated, difficult to navigate, doesn’t offer many of the tools found on other government or agency sites and doesn’t do much—if anything—to bolster the city’s image.
“We can get a decent website for $10,000,” said Mike Borzick, the city’s IT chairman, noting the committee explored options with several firms. “It has a lot of bells and whistles that are aesthetically pleasing, but there’s no form and functionality to it—a basic, run of the mill website.”
Instead, Borzick said, the committee was recommending a contract with CivicPlus, a Kansas-based company, which, according to its own website, specializes in building multifaceted city and county e-government communication systems.
The first of two alternatives for payment came in $21,694 for a single year option, which would include development, support, maintenance, followed by an option, at an annual $4,009 for continuing support, maintenance and hosting.
“It was a little bit of a knee buckler,” Borzick said. “It seems like a lot of money, but the stuff they can offer us is leaps and bounds above everybody else. They include every tool, every module, every application they have developed, are developing or will develop in the near future.”
Other firms, he said, charge extra money for those amenities and, if a tool or application doesn’t end up getting much use, it’s money down the drain.
The second alternative would allow the city to stay within the limits of its $10,000 allocation for 2013, but would require a three-year contract, billed at $9,904 annually, with an option for a fourth year billed $4,420.
The second alternative, which council members agreed was the best choice—pending the city attorney’s review of the contract—also included a no-cost redesign after 48 months of continuous service.
A website built by CivicPlus, said Borzick, would offer tools to benefit residents and city employees, and would also benefit the city’s bottom line by freeing up staff time.
Reservations could be made at the park shelter, for example, permits and licenses could be applied for, and agendas could be created and posted.
Modules are also available for more interactive communication between elected officials, city employees and citizens through opinion polls, staff directories, citizen request trackers, notification emails and SMS text subscriptions.
CivicPlus boasts service to 1,200 clients in 49 states, Canada and Australia
“I believe this is the best fit for the city,” said Borzick, noting he hoped things would be up and running by February or March. “We’ve neglected the website for way too long; it’s a big part of a city’s image.”
Council member Joe Stear agreed.
“I think we’re getting to the point where we want better, rather than cheaper,” Stear said. “I think it’s important, especially if Kuna wants to grow and have developers looking at us.”