LAUREL HILL — It’s about time Okaloosa County’s northernmost municipality joins other cities in having an official website, City Councilman Scott Moneypenny says.
“There’s no denying the internet has changed the way we communicate forever,” Moneypenny said during Thursday’s monthly council meeting. “Most people would rather visit your website then the local city hall.”
Moneypenny said in addition to keeping residents informed about city events and services, “this is an opportunity to get our name out to bigger businesses that might want to put something in our industrial park.”
“Can that incorporate paying a water bill online?” resident Mike Hanula asked, adding, “not that I don't like coming in and visiting.”
“Absolutely,” Council Chairman Larry Hendren said, eliciting applause from Hanula.
Moneypenny said when contacting potential businesses, the first question he’s asked is, “Do you have a website we can go to?”
Moneypenny has researched other similar-sized municipalities’ websites and cited Freeport and Paxton’s online presences, noting Freeport’s would be worth emulating, but Paxton’s is not regularly updated.
Daily updates are essential, he said, but given City Hall’s small two-person staff, an outside web provider would be needed. He said 30-A Media Group offers can create and maintain a website for about $1,400 a year, which is lower than other companies he researched.
Hendren invited other website developers to contact the city and share their expertise as well.
Moneypenny proposed establishing a basic site, or “shell,” then building it based on resident input.
“Everything about our website should support our community needs, goals and aspirations, which is why it has to be built around our citizens,” Moneypenny said.