Polk Countians will soon be able to log on to one central website for county information and other online features after the Polk County Commission approved an agreement last month with the Marketing Bunch to have the firm build it a website.
Commissioners unanimously approved the contract Monday, July 1, according to meeting minutes. The build costs $4,100 upon completion and will be paid for from an IT line item in the county’s general revenue fund.
Presiding Commissioner Shannon Hancock told the BH-FP Wednesday, Aug. 7, a county website had been a long-term goal for county officials. The site isn’t live yet, he said.
“The county has never had a website,” Hancock said. “In years past, they have tried, but it never did come. It’ll be nice.”
Neighboring counties Hickory, Cedar and Greene had central websites listed on the first page of Google search results. Dallas and Dade Counties did not appear to have sites, though individual offices and departments in those counties do have websites.
That’s currently the case in Polk County, where several county offices, including the sheriff, collector, circuit clerk and assessor maintain their own websites.
Hancock said the county webpage, found at polkcountymo.gov, will link to those sites, while also including some information from them at a centralized source.
Tara Akins, who is handling the website build for The Marketing Bunch, said the build focused on that need.
She told the BH-FP the two parties haven’t set a firm date for the site’s completion, but said she’s in the process of having individual offices make final checks to make sure their pages are correct.
Akins said Alan Simpson of Simpson Technology Engineering has also worked on the project.
“The main purpose will be so the county can have information,” she said. “Anyone in the county can go on and say, ‘I want to get a marriage license or a passport,’ or ‘Where do I pay my taxes?’”
The collector’s office website currently offers visitors a way to pay taxes online, and Akins said the new site will incorporate the feature.
“It’s all in one,” she said. “Several offices didn’t have pages, and this is a great way to collectively put everything in one spot.”
Polk County Clerk Melinda Robertson told the BH-FP via email she hadn’t been involved in the set-up yet, but she was hoping to use the website to post ballot returns on election nights.
Asked about commission meeting minutes, Hancock said those may also “be a good idea to have on there.”
Since both would require the site to be regularly updated, Akins said the agreement with The Marketing Bunch provides for training and continual support.
“The offices have access to their pages, and we’re just going to go in and train them and be there to help if they need anything specific,” she said. “We just provide a platform and the mainframe.”
Echoing Robertson, Akins said election returns would be postable on the new site.
“Some things need to happen immediately like election results,” she said. “This has the idea of ‘Let’s get this posted so the community can see this live.’”
Hancock said the county GIS, an interactive map that displays roads and property information, will also be available through the site. The map is currently at polkcomogis.com, which redirects to another site and also asks visitors to download Microsoft Silverlight.
Hancock said the new site eventually won’t require the added steps.
Overall, Hancock said, the website is an effort the commission is making toward bringing the county into the digital age.
“The county just needed a website,” he said. “It’s time.”