Casco aims to update website

By Dawn De Busk

Staff Writer

CASCO — Is it website wow? Or, is it a matter of making the Town of Casco’s Internet spot more user-friendly?

Everything needs an update now and then. So, why not make that upgrade in the constantly changing world of computer technology?

Why not spend a little money to provide residents with an as-easy-as-a-button, informative, totally up-to-date, registration-form-downloading town website?

The Casco Board of Selectmen was in unison on clicking on the mouse, and hiring a web redesigner.

At the tune of $5,200 a year, selectmen were all ears. Not only was the price right; but improving the town’s website was the right direction in which to put public money.

The sentiment was so well supported that a few residents stood up to speak — some saying despite a lack of their personal computer skills, renovating and updating the Casco Town website was the way to go.

While the board was in agreement about hiring Lyman Stuart, a retiree with ten years of experience in website development, where exactly the money would come from was undecided until the board gathered more information.

According to Town Manager Dave Morton, that sum of money could be available in the Capital Account. However, Morton made it clear he should double-check that account before promising any money from it.

Later, during the Tuesday night meeting, South Casco resident Rick Thorpe, who served on the Media Committee — whose task it was to document and price ways to get town information to citizens, asked about using revenue from the Time Warner franchise toward the related expense of paying for a web designer.

“From a dollar standpoint, this could be of no cost to taxpayer,” Thorpe said.

Morton responded, “Yes and no. The balance that isn’t going toward media services would have to be replaced. If we take the money we get from Time Warner cable for franchise fees and put it there, we will have to make up for it somewhere else later.”

“It comes down to how taxpayers wish to reappropriate the money,” he said.

“It is such a small sum, it wouldn’t affect the tax rate,” Morton said, answering another question from Thorpe.

The board voted, 5 to 0, to continue discussions with Stuart. It was go ahead on the web redesign.

However, how the web designer would be paid would hinge on what funds were available in the Capital Fund, or the possibility of releasing funds at town meeting.

Along with Morton, selectman Tracy Kimball interviewed Stuart after he came forward with a voluntary proposal. The board had not put a web design job out to bid.

She said, “I thought his expectations were realistic. He had the experience in designing, and being able to project what an audience would want to see on a website.”

For the price of $5,200 a year, Stuart would re-do the website, maintain the website with updates, and train office employees to navigate and update the website as well, Kimball said.

“I think it’s a good deal for Casco,” she later said.

Immediately, Mary-Vienessa Fernandes said, “I think it’s a good investment.”

Selectman Ray Grant said, “Me, too. We have to make sure we have money in the budget.”

Later, both Kimball and Morton explained that the $5,200 would likely be a yearly salary.

Morton said, “We were talking about an annualized number. He would like to provide ongoing service.”

Kimball said, “It works out to a weekly fee.”

“There would be a lot of work upfront, then it would slow down. The way that that averages out, you wouldn’t find the level of time and dedication at that price,” she said.

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