Township considers following Web path of others

August 22, 2004|by RICHARD F. BELISLE

FRANKLIN COUNTY, PA. - Last week Jerry Zeigler, code enforcement officer for Washington Township, asked the Township Supervisors for $1,200 to hire a consultant to come up with specifications for a Web site for the township.

The consultant's report would be the basis for a bid package for Internet providers to design and build the site.

Zeigler said Washington Township is a "first-class community. It needs a first-class Web site, one that has color and action."

Looking down the road, Zeigler said he sees "a Web site where residents and visitors can pay taxes and fees online, get applications online, see videos of community attractions, hear sound bites and info bites."

"I'm looking ahead 20 years," he said. "We need a Web site that has the capability to expand without having to be redoing it all the time."


Zeigler said the project could cost upwards of $20,000.

The supervisors balked at the price tag and tabled action on Zeigler's proposal, but said they wanted to keep it on the agenda.

Many municipalities in Franklin County have established Web sites for far less money.

Antrim Township has had a home page for two years, said Ben Thomas, a township administrator.

It cost about $800 to set up and it's maintained in-house, he said. The site has had more than 5,000 hits in the last year and a half, he said.

"We're pretty pleased with it," Thomas said. "It helps to educate the community."

The site provides an overview of the township, its history, meeting minutes, the zoning map, ordinances, snow-removal policy, and a list of township employees and their e-mail addresses. It also provides links to other agencies, including the Greencastle-Antrim Chamber of Commerce and the Allison-Antrim Museum Inc.

Chambersburg has had a Web site for four years, said David Finch, assistant borough manager. It lists local ordinances, minutes of meetings and directions on contacting local officials, among other features, Finch said.

He said the borough pays $50 per month for the service through a local provider.

Waynesboro has had a home page for four years, Borough Manager Lloyd Hamberger said.

Created in-house, Hamberger called it a "relatively rudimentary site. It costs less than $30 a month."

The site lists a history of the borough, information on trash collection, minutes, links to Waynesboro Hospital and links to area newspapers, Hamberger said.

Borough ordinances will be listed by the end of the year, he said.

The Waynesboro Police Department has a Web site, Chief Ray Shultz said. Information on it was researched by Kim Green, the department's secretary.

The site features an overview of the department, information on paying parking tickets, crime prevention tips, drug and disaster awareness advice, career opportunities, crime statistics and answers to frequently asked questions, Shultz said.

The site costs about $250 per year to maintain, he said.

Chief Barry Keller of the Washington Township Police Department said he has a Web site designed and nearly ready to go online. It was created by an intern from Juniata College, who worked in the department last spring, Keller said.

He estimates it will cost around $200 per year to maintain.

Officials in Mercersburg and Greencastle said they are considering adding Web sites.

Mercersburg Borough Manager Arthur Speicher is asking the Pennsylvania Association of Boroughs for help in setting up a site. He envisions a five-page Web site listing demographic information, ordinances, meeting minutes and agendas, emergency numbers and links to other agencies.

"We're going very basic," Speicher said.

He estimated the cost at less than $100 per month.

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