Barrington officials hire firm to build new town website

Company has also built sites for Westerly and South Kingstown

Posted 11/22/21

The town website will be different in the future.

During this month’s meeting, members of the Barrington Town Council voted unanimously to award a bid to a Kansas-based company to create a …

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Barrington officials hire firm to build new town website

Company has also built sites for Westerly and South Kingstown

Posted

The town website will be different in the future.

During this month’s meeting, members of the Barrington Town Council voted unanimously to award a bid to a Kansas-based company to create a new website for the town. The bid was for $22,320, with yearly fees of about $5,000, increasing 3 percent each year.

Barrington Town Planner Phil Hervey told council members that the town distributed an online survey to a group of volunteers who were asked to compare the websites of five towns in Rhode Island — Barrington, Bristol, East Greenwich, Westerly and South Kingstown. 

According to a memo from Mr. Hervey, the volunteers found Barrington’s website (www.barrington.ri.gov) “difficult to navigate to complete the various tasks.” Barrington’s website, which had been created in-house by town officials received the lowest average score — 2.6 out of 5.0.

During the council meeting, Mr. Hervey told councilors that the websites for East Greenwich, South Kingstown and Westerly received better reviews, and that all three sites were created by the company CivicPlus, which is based in Manhattan, Kansas.

“These websites were very appealing,” Mr. Hervey said.

In his memo, Mr. Hervey wrote that Barrington officials reached out to administrators in South Kingstown and Westerly, inquiring about their experiences with CivicPlus. He wrote that those two towns offered positive feedback.

Mr. Hervey said the town did not need to use a public bid process for contracting with the company because it could utilize the federal GSA or General Services Administration price agreement.

As for paying for the new website, Mr. Hervey said the town has $3.198 million in unrestricted American Rescue Plan funding. Mr. Hervey also suggested there may be a way for the town to use the ARP money, which comes with an expiration deadline, to pre-pay the contract with CivicPlus for a future year.

Barrington Town Council member Annelise Conway said she thought the $22,320 fee was an exceptional price. Mr. Hervey said the annual cost comes with training for town employees and general maintenance of the site. He also said the new website would allow the town’s different departments an opportunity to maintain their own specific pages on the site. 

“This is going to be much better,” Mr. Hervey said. 

Town officials had previously discussed creating a new website in-house; that effort had been explored by the building, zoning and resiliency department.

According to information included in Mr. Hervey’s memo, CivicPlus has more than 4,000 local government clients across the United States and Canada, and more than 20 years of experience.

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A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.