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West Allis tries to cast a better website

Online tool will do more and look better, city says

April 24, 2012

West Allis - At least by early June, West Allis officials hope to go live with a new city website that will offer everything the current website does, and a lot more.

Moreover, it will do it with a fresh new look, said Kathryn Perrone, information technology supervisor and webmaster.

Mayor Dan Devine said it will be easier for people to get information and will be more attractive, having photos that will reflect the city better.

"It will be a good resource for residents and visitors alike," he said. "It was long overdue."

One of the new things people will be able to do is sign up for alerts such as snow emergencies, flood alerts, public safety alerts, street closing information, Amber alerts and refuse and recycling schedule changes, Perrone said.

They will be able to get that up-to-the second information via email, text message, Facebook or Twitter.

That also is how notifications of public meeting calendars and the library calendar can arrive when people sign up, she said.

Officials also hope to offer live streaming of Common Council meetings, she said. Currently, meetings can be viewed afterward on a computer.

After exploring offerings by various companies that design websites, the city chose CivicPlus. The firm specializes in municipal websites and has been the choice of several metropolitan area communities - including New Berlin, whose website put the city in the top 10 cities of its size in the nation in terms of transparent government.

The cost of the new website will be $22,887 this year and then go down to an annual maintenance cost of $4,983.

People will still be able to do the myriad things they can now online, Perrone said.

"The most popular part of the website is property search," she said, noting the place on the website where people can look up properties and see their assessments, tax history, general characteristics, ownership information, sales history and special assessments.

People also can pay tickets online, submit accident reports, examine a crime map, report minor crimes, buy parking permits and bicycle licenses, find their polling places and look up candidates.

They also can keep current with civic affairs by looking up Common Council and committee agendas and minutes online.

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