By Mary C. Serreze
Special to The Republican
The City of Easthampton has launched a newly-designed municipal website, making it easier for residents to access to a range of public information.
"This new design will allow the public to navigate through the site with ease while providing municipal transparency," said Mayor Karen Cadieux in a statement.
"Some of the new features on our website include responsive design on all devices, calendars for meetings and events, agendas, minutes and available meeting videos and a new video highlighting the city. In addition, Vision Appraisal property cards will now be available through our property assessment link," the mayor said.
"The new website will be constantly evolving and will have a more in-depth Frequently Asked Questions section and a link on the bottom of the home page for comments and suggestions," wrote Barry Small, the Systems Administrator for the city.
The site, designed by Janel Jorda of the Easthampton-based Web-tactics, offers improvements over the former city website, which was outdated and difficult to navigate.
The public may now quickly access a calendar showing when public meetings will be held, and may find posted agendas without having to click through multiple pages.
Copies of the city charter and City Council rules -- documents that were hard to find on the former website -- are now easily accessible. The site also has links for residents to pay real estate taxes and water and sewer bills online.
It's now less difficult to find contact information for members of the City Council. The website shows that most councilors have adopted "Easthampton.org" email addresses, meaning their official communication is backed up on a central server.
Emails to and from local officials in the conduct of the public's business, even if they use a private email address, are considered public records and must be archived, according to Massachusetts public records law.
The website now hosts minutes from City Council meetings, a practice established by City Clerk Barbara LaBombard weeks before the new website was launched. The page contains links to video records of each council meeting as well.
Minutes from all other boards and committees are also now posted to the new website, said LaBombard. "I am trying to bug committees to get their minutes to me, so hopefully we'll have most of the committees with updated minutes as they get used to the process," she said in an email.
The mayor this year has posted her full municipal budget on the website. In years past, Cadieux posted shorter budget summaries, with a full paper copy available at the 50 Payson Ave. municipal building.
The website also displays a new social media policy which prohibits members of city boards, committees and commissions from participating in any online discussion, on any social media platform, in which a quorum of members is present.