Longtime redbankgreen readers may recall our feature some 17 months ago about Tinton Falls Councilman Mike Skudera’s push for better use of the web by municipal governments.
First of all, he wanted those that weren’t on the Internet to build websites. And then he wanted all towns to provide public access to the same categories of information, such as budgets and audits; public notices; permits and licenses; comprehensive information about planning and zoning applications; the master plan; calendars; water quality reports; borough job openings and more.
His aims: throw more sunshine onto the workings of government while reducing its costs.
Now, borough residents and good-gub advocates can see how well Tinton Falls has taken Skudera’s advice. Earlier this month, the township rolled out a new website that Mayor Peter Maclearie describes as “the information nucleus” for borough government, community organizations and events. Download Website_Announcement.pdf
How does it measure up? Readers, of course, will make their own judgments, and we hope they’ll weigh in with comments here.
Meantime, we had some Qs for Skudera. His email replies are below.
Does the site meet your goal of being updatable by all department heads? What ensures that theyll do this in a timely manner?
Yes, the site is designed so authorized borough employees may upload documents or information (web programming knowledge is not needed). The ordinance that I wrote sets the timelines and requirements of what information must be posted, when it should be posted, and how long it should remain on the site and be archived (for examples minutes, agenda, public notices, budget, audit).
In addition the ordinance reads:
Each department shall have its own dedicated web page consisting of appropriate content for that department, contact information and available forms and documents. Each department shall be responsible for providing and forwarding updated information to the webmaster of Tinton Falls when it becomes available.
The Borough shall make attempts to digitize and post additional information, forms, and documents to the website that are not specifically exempted by the New Jersey Open Public Records Act (“OPRA”) (N.J.S.A. 47:1A-1 et seq.), as amended and supplemented.
In the Tinton Falls form of government, carrying out the ordinance is the function of the administration (mayor and administration). The borough council sets policy (legislative branch) and the administration (executive branch) is in charge with the day-to-day functions of the borough.
We dont see anyplace where residents can register dogs or cats or pay their taxes. Are those features in the works, or are they goals down the line?
Taxes, available via a form on this link from the homepage, not yet payable directly online but this form will deduct taxes from your bank account.
Dog licenses available via this link. Tinton Falls does not require licenses for cats.
Directly paying a transaction online is a goal down the line.
Some of the info is already out of date. For example, the Open Space Committee lists four alternates whose terms ended in June including, somewhat ironically, Andy Mayer, who headed up the Technical Advisory Committee that oversaw the creation of the website.
The administration must make sure the website is updated.
The photos of the council members and some of the site graphics appear bizarrely squished.
I saw that and informed the administration to see if they could correct that.
It does look much cleaner than the former site and its a lot easier to navigate. You consider it an evolving project?
With the new borough website, important public information can be made readily available to residents and this will help lower administrative costs, improve the overall efficiency of town employees, reduce consumption of paper, and improve open government.
New forms, documents, and information will be added as time goes on, if not the website becomes outdated.