Commissioners take steps to beef up county’s web presence

Linn County Commissioners Roger Nyquist, Sherrie Sprenger and Will Tucker agreed Tuesday morning to seek Requests For Proposals to develop a new county website.

Over the last four months, a four-person committee has met with elected officials and department heads, gathering information about what they would like to see in a new website.

Each department has its own needs.

IT Director Steve Braaten said a new web page could be up and running in as little as a week for some departments, but other departments use specialized programs – the Assessor’s Office, for example, due to its role as tax collector and property valuations.

Linn County Parks has an extensive campground reservation system in place and the County Clerk’s office is entrusted with being the county’s official office of record.

Braaten said the committee has been researching possible website development companies and learned that a basic website could be set up for less than $40,000, but he believes a website that would meet the county’s numerous and diverse needs may cost upwards of $100,000.

He said some elected officials and department heads have had modern websites developed for their own departments. Those websites can be rolled into the new website, Braaten said, although elected officials have the authority to maintain status quo if they wish.

Braaten said the RFP phase will close in late August and the information will be brought back to the commissioners so they can decide whether or not they want to move forward with the project.

Sprenger said she has several constituents tell her the county’s current website — developed about 30 years ago — is antiquated and cumbersome to use.

“I’m excited about this, very on board, but I have to admit there is some sticker shock,” Sprenger said.

Sprenger said developing the new website isn’t about adding “pretty pictures,” but integrating information and links to help people move from one department to another as smoothly as possible.

“I would encourage you to look down every avenue to dial down costs,” Sprenger said.

Tucker agreed, saying it will be good to have the “same touch, look and feel” across every department site.

Braaten said the RFP review criteria places a 30% weight on project cost.

In other business, the commissioners:

– Approved a change order of $9,000 for the addition of guard rail on the Muddy Creek Bridge Project; a change order of $10,211 on the North Santiam River pedestrian bridge project; and $86,550 for the purchase of a new fuel tank, dispensers and accessories for the Sweet Home District fueling facility.

– Accepted a $606,759 grant from the Oregon Health Authority to provide alcohol and drug prevention education to Linn County residents.

– Were told by Dr. William Muth, Linn County Health Officer, there were 60 births (22 girls and 38 boys) and 113 deaths in June.

– Muth said the latest COVID-19 data is there have been 212,765 cases in Oregon and 2,826 deaths. The Delta variant has affected about 42 Oregonians. There have been 5,976 cases in Linn County and 81 deaths. The state vaccination average is 68%. Washington County has the highest vaccination rate of 74%, Linn County is at 56.4% and Lake County has the lowest rate at 36%.

– Approved moving $57,877 within the General Services budget to turn two temporary help positions into a single full-time custodial services employee position.

– Approved providing $5,000 toward development of a Vietnam War Memorial on the Oregon State Capitol grounds.

– Alex Paul, Linn County Communications Officer