The redesign of www.southjacksonville.org includes updated board agendas and minutes, an online utility bill payment option, and upcoming events and village information on the home page.
Village President Gordon Jumper says the previous website had become cluttered and difficult to navigate through, so a change was needed.
“We were concerned that individuals who were operating on the website were becoming frustrated with the ability to move through the various layers of the website, so we reported the situation to the village board and got authorization to move forward with the new website designer,” Jumper says.
“They spent about four months redesigning the site over the latter part of last year and the early part of this year. We’re hoping not only does that create transparency, but it also creates interest. We want people to come to this website and access information about the village, and in a lot of cases, they will be able to get answers about the village,” he continues.
Jumper adds there is information on the village’s comprehensive plan, tax increment financing district, and zoning ordinances are available for those that wish to evaluate the community for economic development.
The South Jacksonville website was brought up during the well-attended board of trustees meeting earlier this month. Colby Huff, the administrator of the online site My Social Jacksonville, expressed concern about a lack of information, particularly the lack of meeting information.
“I’m pleased to see that the village has responded to an obvious deficiency in the village website, as was pointed out in the meeting last week. Previous meeting minutes and agenda are all posted,” he says. “I was pleasantly surprised to see the village comply with the terms of my FOIA request, which did ask for exactly what’s there: the minutes and agenda dating back to the beginning of 2014.”
Jumper insists the timing of the new launch is a coincidence.
“The interesting thing was that we were within two days of launching this site at the point of that meeting,” he says.
Huff says there are still lot of things not functional on the new site, and more information should be on it. Jumper says over time, more data will be directly available.
Huff has submitted several Freedom of Information Act requests regarding the village’s agreement with ETC ComputerLand of Quincy for that company’s operation of the site. Huff says he has a problem with village money being spent on a website for an out-of-town company to maintain it.
“I’d like to know what the bidding process was done for the awarding of the contract for the website. Was there a local company involved in that process? If there was, I would like to know why there was no local preference shown,” Huff says.
“I’d like to know if there was not a local company involved in the bidding process, when was that process done? Has it been re-bidded at any point? Is there now a local company or, for that matter, a local individual that has an interest in maintaining the website?”
My Social Jacksonville is also working on obtaining documents related to the Concert in the Cornfield. Village officials reportedly said they have received an “unusually high volume of FOIA requests recently”.