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Fair Lawn Contemplates Borough Website Overhaul

The borough is looking to upgrade its website, www.fairlawn.org, to provide residents a more interactive, user-friendly experience.

It wasn't all that long ago that just having a clean, navigable municipal government website packed with pertinent information on meetings, minutes, events, audits and contact lists was a novel concept.

Nowadays, with users also expecting convenient and interactive design capabilities, a pretty, information-loaded website is no longer enough.

As part of its five-year IT upgrade and transformation plan, Fair Lawn is considering making website interactivity improvements that would enable users to conduct municipal business online without ever having to leave the comfort of their homes.

"We’re looking into and are currently getting price quotes on a major overhaul of our website," borough manager Tom Metzler said Tuesday, "effectively making the website a 24-hour access to the ."

Fair Lawn's current site affords users no direct interactivity with the borough, assistant borough manager Jim Van Kruiningen said. Forms are available on the site for download, but they must then be printed, filled out and returned to the municipal building via mail or physical drop off.

With the desired upgrade, residents would be able to pay taxes, bills and fines, file for permits or dog licenses, make public records requests and even sign up for rec center classes through the website. Payments would be made electronically using a credit card.

Thus far, the borough has spoken with one vendor -- CivicPlus -- about the technical capabilities offered.

"The technology is there," Metzler said. "We’re waiting to get the pricing."

As of Wednesday, the borough had yet to receive price estimates from CivicPlus, but Van Kruinigen said he anticipates it being expensive.

"It all comes down to what the cost factor is," he said, "because we have no idea what it's going to cost."

In addition to CivicPlus, which has designed websites for Howell, Cherry Hill and Newton townships, the borough will also speak with other vendors and report back to council with price quotes in a couple months, Metzler said.

Van Kruiningen, who, along with webmaster Ron Lottermann, currently oversees borough website updates, said CivicPlus' content management system is intuitive and easy for even web design novices to master.

If the borough were to enter into contract with a vendor, Van Kruinigen said both the borough and the community center website would be redesigned.

The websites for the library and police department, which operate independently, would not change.

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Stuart Pace September 07, 2012 at 12:41 PM
I think it's great. Ron has done a fantastic job with the website for years. Imagine not having to send that little stub to pay your water bill. I am all for this.
es September 07, 2012 at 01:11 PM
I haven't sent in that stub for several years for either bill by using the no additional charge bill-pay from my bank. Just remember to put the account number (or block and lot) in the memo field so it is credited properly and an extra couple of days for mail delivery. Please be sure whomever is given the website task provides compatibility with Safari, Firefox, Google and IE browsers and also on a iPad, Android pad, iPhone, Android phone....because there *ARE* differences.
Stuart Pace September 07, 2012 at 01:17 PM
tried that es, and my payment was floating around for 3 weeks somewhere in boro hall.
The Most Interesting Man in the World September 07, 2012 at 02:59 PM
A debit or an electronic check option, like when you pay taxes or fees to the state or federal government does not require a fee...so hopefully that will be an an option in addition to credit cards if they are going to charge a convenience fee. Also, since completing forms and paying a fee is mostly what government does and since this can be accomplished online like the rest of the world does business, maybe the size of municipal government can shrink a little and give the taxpayer a break....then again, probably not, what was I thinking? All kidding aside, it would be nice if FL had a usable website from the current millenium.
Kath H November 25, 2012 at 02:13 PM
As a professional web designer, I have to say the fact that they haven't heard back from CivicPlus is not a good sign. There are a lot of web design firms who would jump at a good contract in these difficult economic times. The tricky part is the back end coding and accepting credit cards is no easy task. Yes a lot of web sites accept them, but when you enter your CC number, you have no idea what kind of security is on the other end. I do front end coding for an ecommerce site, and I know how difficult it can be. That and protecting the site from hackers. Columbia bank got hacked awhile back and from the front end their security looks pretty tight - as it should be for a bank. In the long run it would probably be better for the town to accept Paypal - then they wouldn't be liable if people's credit card info got stolen. I hope they hire a good consultant who knows what they are doing to advise them on getting a reliable developer.

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