$50,000 earmarked for South Dundas website

Coun. Marc St. Pierre listens to another councillor speak on Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2016 during a South Dundas council meeting. St. Pierre is comfortable with spending up to $50,000 to redesign the township's website. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston)

SOUTH DUNDAS – After six years, South Dundas is planning to spend up to $50,000 to completely redo its website.

Township council “pre-approved” $30,000 Tuesday night for the 2017 budget as part of the website revamp. That’s on top of the $20,000 already sitting in the South Dundas bank account for the project.

Communications and Tourism Coordinator Katherine Wells told council the RFP (request for proposal) would include the “detailed technical” portion of the website, but council would have to figure out what content they would like, such as a calendar of events.

“Are we not getting ahead of ourselves?” Coun. Marc St. Pierre asked. Mayor Evonne Delegarde said the township wanted to get the tender out early in the new year before Wells goes on leave from the township.

In a later interview with Cornwall Newswatch, St. Pierre was comfortable with the decision. “At the end of the day, I think it’s a good investment.”

St. Pierre was asked if the cost is justifiable, given the good review during a First Impressions report from a Gananoque group. The outside reviewers felt the township had a user-friendly website, but needed to fix some outdated information and get some more professional photos.

“We do (have a good website), but what we’re missing out on is the economic development. Illustrating the properties we have in the municipality and the amenities we have in the municipality and that’s a pretty big portion of a municipal website. Making sure we’re current,” St. Pierre said.

Some other councillors also had questions.

“This amount, in that area, will give quite a redesign?” Deputy Mayor Jim Locke asked.

“This will be a redesign so it will be a completely new website. We’ve discussed with some municipalities that are similar in size as South Dundas that have recently redone their websites to have an idea what they’re budget was and this is in line for what they budgeted, for example, South Stormont,” tourism coordinator Katherine Wells answered.

But South Stormont Coun. Dave Smith told CNW they haven’t set their budget and he expected an upgrade to their website would not be “to that extent.”

The last time the South Dundas website was redesigned was in 2010 and a “superficial refresh” happened in 2014, Wells said.

Coun. Archie Mellan asked about the website life.

“We had six years with this currently website. I could see, depending on the type of system that is chosen through the RFP process, in that ballpark figure again,” Wells said.

Budget is rich, say developers

But some website developers believe the budget is rich for a municipality of 11,000 residents.

One developer, who asked to remain anonymous because they are an active bidder on contracts, told Cornwall Newswatch they would have to see the request for proposal but thought the $50,000 budget was “incredibly high.”

The developer said a website redesign for Cornwall – a city four times the population of South Dundas and a “far more involving” website – would have cost around $15,000 at that time to redevelop.

The source suggested a comprehensive website redesign for South Dundas would be around $10,000.

Another developer, who worked on the Township of South Glengarry website from 2005-2011, thought the budget for South Dundas was excessive.

“Even with added features, there is no way a website should cost $50,000. I have been authoring websites for 20 years and could likely handle what they need for a fraction of the cost,” John Lister told CNW.

Even though it’s unlikely, the $30,000 could be scuttled or reduced during budget deliberations early next year.

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