By Valerie Baldowski
Next month, the City of Hampton will move forward with plans to upgrade its web site, to make it more user-friendly.
City Council members have initiated discussions about bids to enhance the web site by using the technological services of Liberty Technology of Griffin, or Total Tech Group LLC, of Statesboro.
"I'm going to make a recommendation after looking at the bids a little more closely ... at the June 1 council meeting," said Hampton City Manager Andy Pippin. "We are on the verge of needing some things that we don't quite need right now, but we're on the verge of it," said Pippin. "We're growing ... I don't want to be behind the eight ball on it. I want to be out in front, I want to be proactive, rather than reactive.
The information technology services would incorporate the software programs for billing, and monitoring power usage, and water usage, as well as the maintenance of the web site, according to Pippin.
The proposals were first reviewed at the council's regular meeting on May 18. The city has budgeted the money in its administrative fund to pay for the enhanced services to be provided, said Pippin. Hampton already uses services provided by Total Tech LLC.
Pippin said the initial bids will be "revamped." He declined to name a dollar amount for each bid. "We've got a lot of construction going on," he added. "We've just completed a wastewater treatment plant. We are about a month away from a public works facility. They are installing all the IT work now -- phone lines, computer lines, all the technical stuff ..."
"The city has a web site [and] what we're talking about doing with both of these companies, is porting the web site from its existing server, to one of their servers, and then making the site more robust," said Hampton City Councilman Arley Lowe. "It would be an enhanced web site. We would not have a whole new web site; we would just add on to it ... It would be easier and more quickly updated, and made current, and then we could ... add the features that we want."
Lowe said the enhanced web site would allow for the posting of city council meeting agendas, and minutes from past meetings. Upgrading would make the site more "customer-friendly," he added.
"One of my things is ... I want the citizens of Hampton to use our web site," said Pippin. "I want them to go on to see temperature, and weather, and date, time, whatever. I want them to be able to pay all of their bills on the web site. I would like people from out of town, possibly, that may be driving too fast, for the city to be able to pay their speeding fines, or any other fines, on our web site."
Pippin said he hopes the city will use Facebook and Twitter on its upgraded web site. He said he plans to spread the word about its availability, when it is up and running. "I want to advertise it. I want to get everybody involved, and make sure everybody knows how to get to it, and look at it on a regular basis," he said.
As the city manager, Pippin also said he hopes to post his own blog on the web site. "If, for instance, I happen to be at the new public works facility and I notice that they have finished paving, I'd like to be able to, on my Blackberry, go in and say, 'I'm at the public works facility, looks like they're about done paving, looks like we're two weeks out,'" he added.