A screenshot of a preview build of the new city of Española website as it appeared on Aug. 27, 2016.
The launch of a new city of Española website has been delayed until late September, more than nine months after the city signed the contract to build the site.
City Clerk Anna Squires expected the website to launch on Aug. 1, but the company building the site said it won’t be ready until Sept. 22. The city and Manhattan, Kan.-based company, CivicPlus, signed the contract in December 2015.
During the site’s public reveal, Aug. 4, Squires said the new would allow residents to keep track of and participate in local government, and would help bring the city into compliance with state law.
“The current website is very basic and we aren’t able to maintain it as a city,” Squires said. “We’ve touched base with the state statutes, retention schedules and the Open Meetings Act for things we have to have on there. A lot of things, like meeting minutes, haven’t been on there and it is essential that they are, but we haven’t had them up there.”
Once the new site is complete, residents should be able to pay utility bills or municipal court fines, access an up-to-date book of city ordinances, and browse updates by the city’s department heads. The old site relies entirely on Richard Rickenberg, owner of Footloose Photography, to enter the information that Squries gives him, which has effectively prevented the city from keeping the site up-to-date.
In April and May, CivicPlus presented example websites to city officials who gave feedback, to complete phase one of the $35,000 contract. The company will also collect an annual $5,000 maintenance and technical support fee once the scope of work is complete. That fee will increase by five percent on the third year and beyond, according to the service agreement.
The same spending measure that paid for the website allocated $10,000 to Squire’s office, to pay for two scanners meant to improve the Española Police Department’s ability to track and manage paperwork.
Old site ranked near bottom of transparency review
Squires and Records Specialist Melissa Velasquez have been looking to Silver City’s website as an example, Squires said, because of its content and top ranking in an audit by the New Mexico Foundation for Open Government last year.
The Foundation reviewed how accessible city finances and officials are to the public in 31 cities or towns and 27 of 33 counties. They found that only the city of Anthony scored less than Española among cities and towns with fewer than 15,000 people.
On a scale of 95 points awarded for accessibility of spending, budgets and requesting public information, Española scored 30 points, while Silver City and Ruidoso scored 56.
CivicPlus has built websites for other New Mexico governments, including Chaves County, Eddy County, McKinley County and the city of Eunice.
According to the service agreement, once the company completes the site, the city will own its content. It will host up to 20 gigabytes, or about 4 standard-size DVDs, of data.
A version of this article appears in print on July 28, 2016, on page B1 of the Rio Grande SUN with the headline: City Website Launch Delayed.