Bryson City initially paid a company called GovOffice to set up its website in 2009 and really hasn’t done any major upgrades since that time. Many towns across the country have used GovOffice to establish a user-friendly template, which then allows town employees to plug in content and make updates.
When new Town Manager Josh Ward came on board last year, he designated an employee to make updates to the website and added important links to direct people to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and to the designated Mountain Heritage Trout waters in the area. He said the town doesn’t have any planned upgrades for the site right now.
“Basically what we have now is what we’ll keep — we may add stuff to it down the road — but it’s what we need at this point, which is just something to direct people,” Ward said.
The town website does provide contact info for town hall, town departments, the mayor and the board of aldermen, but it doesn’t provide much other useful information for residents and businesses. Residents can’t pay their taxes online or apply for permits.
While the design isn’t too bad for a template, the town doesn’t utilize the site very well. There are tabs and links that simply open up to a blank page. There is a link to a staff directory with no directory, a link to permit applications with no applications and a community calendar with no listings.
Residents can’t access current meeting agendas for the town board or minutes from meetings held in 2016. Minutes and agendas are only available for meetings held in 2015 and prior. If residents would like to receive a copy of the meeting agenda, they can request to receive an email notification or go by town hall to pick one up.
You won’t find a copy of the annual budget on the town’s website either — even though there is a budget link under the “Finance” tab. Residents and businesses can find a copy of the town’s ordinances and Land Development code under the “Planning and zoning” tab.
Bryson City has the infrastructure needed to have a fairly comprehensive website that can act as a key resource for the public, but struggles with designating limited resources to keeping it up-to-date.
2016-17 Budget: $2.8 million
Annual website expense: $625
Initial website expense: $2,675
Year launched: 2009
Avg. visits/month: N/A
Avg. unique visitors/month: N/A