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County opening the door for new online portal
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Effingham County’s presence on the World Wide Web could be changing soon.

Commissioners agreed to go with a redesign of the county’s website at www.effinghamcounty.org, using Civic Plus to rebuild the site.

County Administrator Toss Allen said information technology director Chris Reed and his staff looked at several different options. County staff brought the website’s condition and appearance to the commissioners’ attention during a January retreat.

“The staff believes it is what we need,” Allen said.

The existing website lacks in functionality and aesthetics, according to county staff.

“We reviewed several of the website vendors for counties similar to our size,” Reed said. “A lot of them had a lot of what we needed. One of them had 99 percent.”

Reed said the Civic Plus proposal includes a site that incorporates commission agendas, bid postings and a calendar section. It will also have a job posting module.

There also will be a citizens’ connect and a citizens’ request center as part of the site. It also will host the county’s intranet site. It also will have a notification center for emergencies and provide online portal to pay county bills.

“The interface is easy to work with,” Reed said.

Civic Plus is based in Kansas, and Lowndes County is one of their clients.

The cost is $35,480 to start, with annual hosting and maintenance costs of $7,280 starting in the second year of the contract. The county did not budget in the current fiscal year, which started July 1, for a new website, but there is money set aside in special local option sales tax for records management.

According to county officials, the initial cost is less than hiring a full-time web developer and the recurring fees are less than employing a full-time staffer.

“If it’s a benefit for the staff and the public, I’m all for it,” said Commissioner Vera Jones.