North Bennington trustees eye website

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NORTH BENNINGTON — The village government may seek to establish its own, official website.

At a meeting earlier this month, village trustees discussed a proposal from Grafton Web Sites, a vendor based in Grafton, N.Y., to build the village a website using a template available through Squarespace, a web platform company.

Currently, The Fund for North Bennington, Inc., a nonprofit that supports the community, hosts a collection of village documents — including the latest annual report, zoning map and sign ordinance — on a page on its website, northbennington.org, but cautions that it does not constitute "an official web site of Village government."

The Fund's website "does not provide copies of [village government] meeting warnings, minutes and other routine administrative materials," it notes.

Grafton's proposed fee of $1,000 for the website design would include training on the use of the site for future updates and "minor tweaks and adjustments for three months," according to a proposal displayed during the meeting. The village would also need to pay around $216 to Squarespace each year, plus a $20 annual domain fee.

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Village Board of Trustees Chair John Lamson said that he tried putting some information on a Squarespace template himself but that "it just wasn't getting anywhere close to what our website should look like," leading him to believe that "it needs to be professionally done."

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The trustees debated but did not take any action on the proposal at their Sept. 8 meeting. Lamson confirmed in an email on Tuesday that the village will seek quotes from other possible vendors and discuss next steps at a meeting in October.

"We will definitely be revisiting [this] before taking action," he wrote.

Trustee Matthew Patterson said that the village should probably anticipate paying someone "a couple thousand" dollars per year to ensure that the site is regularly updated and in compliance with state law.

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Official websites maintained by towns are subject to Open Meeting Law requirements, Maura Carroll, executive director of the Vermont League of Cities and Towns, wrote in an email. "For example, agendas for regular and special meetings must be posted to an official website, if one exists that is maintained or has been designated as the official website of the public body."

"The need" for an official website "is very, very real," Village Treasurer Mary Rogers said during the meeting. "There's all kinds of stuff that should be on our site."

Lamson said the village would also need to decide on the new site's URL, or address, suggesting that opinions could be collected through a survey.

Contact Luke Nathan at lnathan@benningtonbanner.com.


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