Hogansville discusses website improvements

Published 5:34 pm Tuesday, April 2, 2019

In a relatively short meeting, the Hogansville City Council discussed possible updates to its website platform, before ultimately deciding to take no action and table any decision until the next council meeting on April 15.

City Manager David Milliron explained that, as a part of his two-year journey to become credentialed as a Certified Economic Developer, he has taken a comprehensive look at the city’s marketing and promotion of the city, including an evaluation of the city’s website. What he discovered was that work is needed on the city’s digital front.

“I wish I could say that evaluation came out with flying colors, but it didn’t,” Milliron said. “In fact, where I thought we were getting along pretty nicely, we failed miserably in some key areas. The existing website we have has served us well, but the reality is it’s very hard for staff to navigate and actually update. The website itself has failed us twice in the last 10 days. That’s because the platform it is on, the technology has been upgraded to a point that it is no longer compatible with our WordPress theme.”

Milliron also explained the city’s website does not include easily-accessible information on the city’s tourism opportunities, does not allow the Downtown Development Authority to maintain a database on vacant properties, nor does it allow citizens to subscribe to news information or emergency updates sent out by the city.

Per Milliron, there is a line item in the city’s budget in the amount of $10,396 that could be used for expenses related to updating the city’s website, though he noted the bids that have come in for this work came in below this figure. The city council was asked to authorize city staff to select a vendor for this work to improve the website and update its platform.

“What I’m really asking the council to do is give staff the authority to start the process of selecting a vendor that will best suit the city’s need,” Milliron said.

Three bids from three companies have been received for this work, from Municode, CivicPlus and MunicipalCMS.

City Councilwoman Theresa Strickland asked for additional information, and questioned if the city could use hotel/motel tax dollars to pay for the project.

“I would like to see it in a different proposal,” Strickland said. “At the end of the day, if we commit to paying $10,000, what is the next year’s cost? What are we actually paying right now? That’s something I’d like to know. Would we be able to use hotel/motel money for this project?”

Milliron assured the council that hotel/motel tax dollars could be used for this project, and made it clear the current site will fail at some point.

“It’s pretty obvious you need a new website,” he said.

Strickland, however, asked to table the decision until the next council meeting. When asked by Mayor Bill Stankiewicz what could be gained by tabling the decision for two weeks, Strickland responded the time could be used to ensure the council considered all options for moving forward.

“Being informed and to make sure the council is considering all the options, especially since this is $10,000 of unrestricted money,” Strickland responded.

The decision to table the decision passed 4-1, with Councilman Fred Higgins opposing.

In other action, the city council held a first reading of an updated city watershed protection ordinance, which changes language related to conform to existing conditions and additional uses.