Smart Growth for Vernon, CT
Vernon unveils its new Web page; Plans to use it to expand services

By Kym Soper
Journal Inquirer
January 18, 2008

VERNON - The town got an electronic facelift for the New Year, as it recently launched a new Web page, with plans to expand town services via the Internet.

Arthur Beirn, director of information technology, said while significantly improved, the revised new Web site still is in its infancy.

"One part of this is that we, hopefully, will make it more user friendly," Beirn said, who envisions residents one day being able to pay their taxes or sign up for a recreation program online.

Previously the Website was managed and updated by two separate domains - the state, which provided a cheap shell, and commercial vendor E-link, Beirn said.

The town is in the midst of combining the information under a single domain, which eventually should be managed by the town, he said.

"Our ultimate task is to make it service oriented so residents will be able to pay taxes and find services more easily," he said.

The effect could minimize traffic and workload at town hall.

Before coming to Vernon, Beirn worked in Manchester where he helped develop that town's E-Gov-ernment system.

In the Manchester town clerk's office alone, foot traffic dropped 90 percent once online services were installed there, he said.

That freed up Manchester town staff to concentrate on other duties such as preserving historical documents and maintaining the vault, Beirn said.

While many of Vernon's older residents may feel more comfortable doing business in person, younger residents prefer online services, said Beirn, who teaches an e-business course at Central Con-necticut State University.

Many of them are young parents who would like the flexibility of being able to pay their water bill or sign their kids up for soccer late Sunday night, he said.

The profile of today's young consumer is that they want everything, and they want it yesterday, he said, noting the increased use in the self-checkout aisle at supermarkets.

"They're doing it all themselves - scanning, bagging, paying - and they're happy about that," Beirn said.

Besides being able to offer more services online, the new Web page is aesthetically more pleasing, he said.

The old page was a poor design that frequently didn't fit on some computer screens. Users often must scroll up and down to find information on any Web page. But the old Web site forced many to also pan left and right.

It was difficult to navigate and updates were slow or nonexistent, said Beirn, who added: "We hope to have all key services found in no more than two clicks of the mouse."

Until a server is installed at Town Hall, a local company will continue with updates and combining all information, Beirn said.

"They'll test it, tweak it, and hopefully we'll get feedback" from the users on how to make it even better, he added.

The Web site can be found online at:

Anyone with comments or suggestions for making the page better may contact Beirn at 870-3646.

©Journal Inquirer 2008