VALPARAISO | Porter County government is looking to go live July 3 with a new website designed for the average person, who is uncertain where to find help with needs ranging from a marriage license to zoning questions.
A prototype of the site features a prominent link labeled "How do I," which guides visitors through a series of options for applications, contacts, registrations and payments.
"The average citizen doesn't have a clue to what department does what," said Sharon Lippens, director of the county's information technologies department.
Porter County Commissioner Nancy Adams, R-Center, who has assisted with the project since last year, said the new website will better serve those comfortable with online services and those who are not.
As more people are able to meet their needs online, more county employees will be available to help those who choose to carry out their business in person, she said.
The new site, which has an alternative premiere date of July 11 in the event of last minute problems, will also serve as an economic development tool by providing information to those interested in the area, Adams said.
The site features a calendar for government and community events, Adams said, and a rotating spotlight feature that sheds light on specific areas of county government.
Lippens said there are also options on the new site to dialogue with the county, including the ability to sign up for reminders of meetings and tax bills.
The site is also capable of showing videos of county meetings.
The site was developed and will be maintained by CivicPlus, of Kansas, which specializes in the creation of government websites, she said. The firm has developed sites for Valparaiso and Hobart.
While the Porter County Commissioners entered into an agreement with the firm last year, funding has yet to be approved by the County Council.
The council split 3 to 3 last week on a request to transfer $75,598 to cover the initial website costs. The funding included $63,000 for the development of the site and an ongoing annual maintenance fee of $12,000.
Adams said she plans to return next month to again seek approval from the council.