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Westmoreland website could simplify obtaining documents, bring meetings online

| Thursday, April 11, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

An upgraded Westmoreland County website presented this week will provide easier access to public documents and could even allow for streaming the commissioners' twice-monthly business meetings over the Internet.

“I don't think that's why we're doing it,” Commissioner Tyler Courtney said. “But we want to give the public the opportunity to watch.”

Dave Ridilla, director of the county's computer information systems department, said the streaming of commissioners' meetings could be a year or two away.

But the new website offers immediate improvements, he said.

In addition to allowing blind users to navigate the site with audio commands, the technology will allow members of the public to review and file documents from their home or office, make payments over the Internet and access the county's portal via mobile devices.

“Our main focus is to make documents and information accessible to the public,” Ridilla said.

Prospective vendors looking to do business with Westmoreland County will have improved access, according to Controller Jeff Balzer.

Information will be posted and electronically sent to potential bidders who register online to receive information about upcoming county projects and purchases.

“We'll get the process done a lot faster and there will be more competition for jobs. It just creates fair opportunity and more people will get involved with county business,” Balzer said.

The website will allow the public to have access to more documents and information.

County commissioners last year signed a contract with Manhattan, Kan.-based Enterprises Inc. to host, support and maintain the site.

The company is being paid $150,000 over the first three years of the deal.

Its pay will drop to $18,715 in the fourth year, and will increase by 5 percent in each following year.

The county previously paid $5,000 annually to maintain the website it created in house nine years ago.

Software used to create the old website was purchased through a state contract.

But that software needed to be replaced because it was outdated, officials said.

Rich Cholodofsky is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-830-6293 or rcholodofsky@tribweb.com.

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