Supervisor Greg Helsmoortel said the town and village website will have more information soon to address an “F” grade issued by the Empire Center for Public Policy, the Albany-based think tank which took the town to task for not including information on budgets and FOIL requests, among other things.
Helsmoortel described problems as “minor issues” and said the fixes are “easy to do.”
The Empire Center praised the town for its response.
“Saugerties added contact information, public meeting information, and a page detailing public access (FOIL) policies,” it writes in a recent posting. “The webmaster in Saugerties is in the process of collecting and adding more budget information, comprehensive financial reports and collectively bargained contracts.”
Empire quotes Helsmoortel saying, “a grading system such as this is great, something we can sink our teeth into and strive to be the best we can.”
Mike Campbell, a Saugerties resident, maintains the website for “very little money,” said Helsmoortel, who explained every department head forwards information and updates to Campbell, who then posts the items to the site.
Web server resources are contracted through Digital Towpath, which manages many municipal sites and is administered by the SUNY Institute of Technology in the Utica/Rome area. Administrators are able to post items through a user-friendly content management system.
The cost for basic web services from Digital Towpath is $750 per year.
Area municipalities that use Digital Towpath in addition to Saugerties include the city of Hudson and the towns of Hunter, Hurley, Jewett, Ulster and Woodstock.
New website not happening
The fate of an unfinished update to the website has been a subject in this paper’s letters to the editor this year, with supporters of Helsmoortel and the previous supervisor, Kelly Myers, attempting to assign blame to one or the other for giving the job to an out-of-town company and not ensuring it was completed.
Collins Communications of Albany was paid $6,500 to redesign the town’s website and provide staff training on site maintenance. A test site was designed and still exists at saugerties.socialboutiquemedia.com, but has not been updated. Helsmoortel said the town no longer pays for services by Collins Communications of Albany or its subcontractor, Create Digital Design of South Carolina, and at this point, no effort is being made to get a return on the town’s $6,500 investment. The town has ended ties with Collins Communications and Create Digital Design and is focused on improving the current website, he said.