SARANAC LAKE - The village of Saranac Lake launched some new features on its Web site over the holidays.
Those who frequent saranaclakeny.gov will now be able to receive a variety of email updates sent directly to their inbox. Additionally, the new features make the site more interactive while allowing residents to submit questions or complaints over the Internet.
About a year ago, the village launched its first stand-alone Web sitein an effort to improve its online presence, as well as provide updated information 24 hours a day.
Most municipalities are opting to run their own individual websites now, rather than share websites or post information through local commerce groups like the Saranac Lake Area Chamber of Commerce.
Last year, trustees voted to enter a contract with E-Gov Link, a municipal Web siteservices company, to enhance the village's site with five e-government features.
One is the Citizen Request System, a web-based database that lets residents ask questions, make service requests, and file complaints online.
Once submitted, users receive a confirmation and a tracking number that allows them to check on the status of a request at any given time. After submission, the request is forwarded to the appropriate staff member via email and it's their responsibility to respond to any requests.
Village Manager Martin Murphy will track requests and report back to the board of trustees. He says the new system will help staff track how long it takes to process requests and complaints.
"It will allow the public to stay more informed about the status of their requests," he said in a press release. "We will use the system to improve our customer service."
The village has also added a bid posting database to the website. Now, staff can post bids and requests for proposals to the site, and businesses and contractors can sign up to receive notifications as new bids are added.
Users may also elect to sign up for the new subscription service, which allows anyone with an email address to receive updates regarding certain topics. Currently, residents can sign up to get updates about Mt. Pisgah, board meeting agendas, and other news.
The new Frequently Asked Questions feature is an improvement over the old FAQ section of the Web site. Over time, it creates a searchable database for visitors.
A new section for online documents and forms has been added as well. This feature allows users to find all available electronic documents and forms in one place.
Mayor Tom Michael said the village's Web site is impressive when compared to other small local governments.
"For such a small village, we've developed a sophisticated web presence in a very short amount of time," he said.
He added the new features make municipal government more accessible and more transparent - two things that taxpayers are starting to demand more and more.
"I think our Web siteimprovements speak highly of the professional staff we have that understands how to use the latest technologies to improve the efficiency of village government in a cost-effective manner," Michael said.