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Arlington Heights 2015 Budget Proposal Includes Revamped Village Website at a Cost of $75,000

Thu March 06 2014 6:24 pm  http://www.arlingtoncardinal.com/?p=68762
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The Proposed FY2015 Budget includes funds for a complete revamp of the Village’s website. Ever-changing technology offers opportunities which could enhance the ease of use and accessibility of information found on our website. Based on website re-engineering costs incurred by neighboring Villages, $75,000 has been included in the proposed budget for this project.

The Village of Arlington Heights website is produced by American Eagle of Park Ridge. The website designer has a portfolio that includes government, school, sport team, E-commerce, corporate branding, and informational websites.

American Eagle has also produced websites for the Arlington Heights Park District, the Discover Arlington marketing/information site, District 214, the Chicago Park District, the Chicago Bears, Hobby Lobby, Ventra, the American Red Cross and more.

Potential new functions that our website does not currently have include user-friendly navigation, fillable forms, interactive meeting calendar, online permits, multiple templates for page design that can be tailored to specific departments, and a design that allows the site to be viewable across various platforms. The Village’s current website went live in March 2009 and there have been minor modifications to design and functionality since that time.

One of the key goals for the Village of Arlington Heights is to continue to improve communications to and from residents and businesses. During FY2014 the Village added functionalities to vah.com, including a meeting agenda system that includes online access to agendas, background information on each agenda item, and meeting minutes. The Village also expanded online access to a web portal that allows visitors to search for and print out information found in the Village’s Municipal Code, as well as ordinances and resolutions passed by the Board.

In March 2013, the Village started a Twitter account that has reached 462 followers, as of March 6, 2014. The Twitter account is used to promote news stories posted on the website and to share crime alerts as well as remind residents of various Village programs. The Arlington Heights account does not match the top standards observed nationwide, regarding use of Twitter as an information source. As a local comparison, the Arlington Heights Twitter account does not include traffic updates or other related real-time updates as consistently as the Village of Schaumburg. The updates that the Village of Arlington Heights does not post consistently include infrastructure-related interruptions, such as power failures, traffic signal failures, water main breaks, road closures due to crashes, snow/traffic plan activations, etc.

A University of Illinois at Chicago study ranked the Village of Arlington Heights’ website in the top 10 in a study of social media provided by Illinois’ largest cities, according to the Village of Arlington Heights budget report.

Most recent Tweet from the Village of Arlington Heights at the time of publishing this article.

Using Citizen Observer and a separate Twitter account, the Arlington Heights police department operates web-related services independently of the Village of Arlington website, and does a more consistent job of posting mostly property-related crimes. The Arlington Heights Police Department, with the support of Crime Stoppers Inc., contracts with Citizen Observer to instantly provide residents and businesses with crime alerts and prevention information through email and text messaging. The goal of the program is to get relevant and timely information out to those who want to partner with the Arlington Heights Police Department in keeping residents safe, preventing crimes and possibly solving crimes. In December there were 2,434 Citizen Observer subscribers and 838 Citizen Observer Alerts were sent in 2013. As of Thursday March 6, 2014, the police department’s own Twitter account followers are up to 331 from 145.

Most recent Tweet from the Arlington Heights Police Department at the time of publishing this article.

October of 2012 was the first time that the Village has offered residents the ability to purchase their vehicle stickers online through the Village’s website. Other existing online payment options include payments for Village water and sewer bills and parking tickets.

The Business Marketing Showcase and Shop Local Program have more than 20 business videos airing on the Village’s municipal access channel as well as posted on the Village’s websites. There are additional new videos in production and several others in the procurement stage. The program has received renewed focus since it was launched. The objective has been to entice more retailers and restaurants to produce videos that will enhance shopping locally.

In 2012 the Village’s website had at least five months of more than 30,000 visitors. This marks the first time the Village’s website has reached over 30,000 visitors for more than one month.

A website tool was added for doing online surveys, applications and questionnaires. This tool was used to create a survey on flooding, a Police survey on services, and several online applications for awards and Hearts of Gold nominations. Being able to complete a survey online instead of downloading a PDF was found to be appreciated by those who used the new tool.

October of 2012 was the first time that the Village has offered residents the ability to purchase their vehicle stickers online through the Village’s website. Other existing online payment options include payments for Village water and sewer bills and parking tickets.
The Business Marketing Showcase and Shop Local Program have more than 20 business videos airing on the Village’s municipal access channel as well as posted on the Village’s websites. There are additional new videos in production and several others in the procurement stage. The program has received renewed focus since it was launched. The objective has been to entice more retailers and restaurants to produce videos that will enhance shopping locally.

October of 2012 was the first time that the Village has offered residents the ability to purchase their vehicle stickers online through the Village’s website. Other existing online payment options include payments for Village water and sewer bills and parking tickets.
The Business Marketing Showcase and Shop Local Program have more than 20 business videos airing on the Village’s municipal access channel as well as posted on the Village’s websites. There are additional new videos in production and several others in the procurement stage. The program has received renewed focus since it was launched. The objective has been to entice more retailers and restaurants to produce videos that will enhance shopping locally.

The proposed Village budget of $154,550,004 for Fiscal Year 2014- 2015, which begins May 1, 2014, represents a decrease of 3.4% from the current budget.

The Village Board’s review of the proposed budget was scheduled at several Committee of the Whole meetings at 7:30 p.m. in the Community Room on Wednesday, March 5, Monday, March 10, Thursday, March 13 and Wednesday, March 19. The Community Room is located on the third floor of the Village Hall, 33 S. Arlington Heights Road.

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