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West Jordan Journal

West Jordan to launch new city website in July

Jun 14, 2021 11:37AM ● By Erin Dixon

Council chambers has a new set-up to enhance online participation for public meetings. (Erin Dixon/City Journals)

By Erin Dixon | [email protected]

If you think West Jordan City could do better with resident communication, you’re not alone.

Resident Brandy Wright suggested a new website. 

Resident Julie Ann Bonifay suggested an emailed newsletter and an Instagram account. The city has an Instagram, but it hasn’t been updated since 2019. 

In July this year, a new city website will be launched. 

“The new site will launch with simplified navigation and an emphasis on resident and customer priorities,” Tauni Barker, communications director, said. “Previously, the website was organized by department, which means a resident would need to know exactly what department was in charge of a particular function.”

The website will work on desktops, smartphones and smartwatches.

July will also be the launch of a texting program that will allow residents to communicate quickly with the city by sending a text. 

“West Jordan residents will be able to text the City to report issues and/or concerns,” Barker said. “Texts to the City may include a picture, description and other information. Residents will also be able to opt-in to notifications from City Hall.”

A newsletter, with news and information, will be emailed out bi-weekly to those who sign up on the new website.

Sometime this summer, “Community Engagement Department is looking to expand its hours to accommodate resident inquiries and in-person bill pay through 6 p.m.,” Barker said. 

“There are some additional things we’re working on behind the scenes, but it’s probably a bit too premature to share those projects,” Barker said. 

Before the Covid-19 pandemic, city council meetings were broadcast on YouTube and available to watch live, as well as after the fact. Residents could watch but not participate remotely.

Within weeks of the state shut-down, West Jordan started remote council meetings where each council and staff member could participate from their own houses. Residents were able to call in by phone or use Zoom to participate in the meeting, as if they were in council chambers. 

As restrictions ease, some cities are returning to pre-pandemic style meetings. West Jordan, however, is keeping the “Zoom Room.”

“If I wanted to protest...I’d have to drive here, wait here for citizen comment, wait for the item to appear,” Alan Anderson, city council-manager, said. “Now I can … log in via Zoom and it’s as if I was in the room.”

There are additional monitors in council chambers, a new lectern with a touch screen, you draw on the screen. All of this was purchased with CARES act money that was granted to the city in 2020 to help with communications during the pandemic. 

“If I wanted to protest...I’d have to drive here, wait here for citizen comments, wait for the item to appear,” Anderson said. “Now I can … log in via Zoom and it’s as if you were in the room.”

“Everybody has an opportunity to participate in their local government.”

Agendas are now published 10 days before the next council meeting, rather than the weekend before.

“One good thing the pandemic has taught us is we can do things differently,” Anderson said. “It’s an opportunity to do things better.”

“Zoom will be part of the city lifestyle for a number of years.”

The city pays just over $5,000 a year for Zoom meetings, but this includes all city use, not just for the City Council.