May 2013

May 2013: Mayors

Author: Drew Laughlin and Lisa Sulka | Photographer: Photography by Anne


Infomania

“Transparency” in government is all the rage now, but providing timely information to the public and the media is nothing new to us. The Town of Hilton Head Island employs numerous and various means to inform our residents about our goings on. In my mind, we have been transparent for a long time, but we are now employing new means to deliver public information.

Transparency as it applies to the town kind of reminds me of the “green” and “sustainability” movement. As these recently became buzz words, some would have you believe that was the time the town first embraced “green and sustainability” polices and adopted laws to protect our natural resources. Nothing could be farther from the truth. We were green and sustainable before it was cool, and the same can be said for pipelining information to the public.

We have a strong track record of being open and available to the media. Additionally, our current Public Information Program and potential use of social media can be found by visiting our web page at hiltonheadislandsc.gov/government/publicinfomemo.pdf. Please look at it, and I am confident you will be impressed with the amount of information we offer to residents and others.

In an effort to enhance our existing Public Information Program, town council has asked the town manager to focus on social media strategies. We have added a financial dashboard page to our website and will be posting quarterly financial information in the coming months. Televising town council meetings has been discussed by council the last six months on a couple of occasions, and we are awaiting a recommendation from the town manager and his staff on broadcast options. Preliminarily, we have a few options.

There are cheap ways to video stream meetings on a web page, but the production quality would not be first class. We could create our own broadcast service as Beaufort County has done; however, the cost is probably not justified by the benefit. We could contract with Beaufort County and pay them to televise our council meetings. Beaufort County has created a very capable and robust county channel program, and they have indicated a willingness to work with the town to our mutual benefit. We’ll soon see what town council recommends.

One of the wonderful things about being a mayor or council member anywhere is that we have the opportunity to accomplish great things. On Hilton Head Island, thanks to your support, this mayor and town council are doing just that. And we are proud that we have been and will be conveying to you the value of what we as a community accomplish together.

  • Social Media**

One area that council wants to focus on this coming year is our use of social media to get information out to our citizens. We currently use Facebook and blogs, and we hope to begin developing a town app in the near future, so keep a look out for this news. Currently we are very proud of our town website. This site has gone through some fascinating transformations and all of the credit goes to our IT department. If you haven’t been there recently, please take a few minutes to visit townofbluffton.sc.gov.

The Town of Bluffton website is a great source of information for residents, visitors, businesses and anyone with an interest in Bluffton. Please check our site frequently for the most current information on what is happening in our town. We strive to make our site as user-friendly as possible by putting the most searched for information right on the homepage.

We have posted a new calendar that features meetings as well as community events. If you would like your community event listed, please use the Contact Us page to submit your information.

A few examples of things you can find on our homepage:
-Upcoming Meetings
-Community Events
-Media Releases
-Budget Information
-Join our Mailing List
-Purchasing RBC Heritage Golf Tickets (available at Town Hall)
-Take a Video Tour of Bluffton
—“Like” Us on Facebook
-View a collective calendar featuring upcoming meetings, community events, etc.
-Contact Us (we will reply)
-The Bluffton Explorer, a user-friendly online public information mapping system, is also getting some new features, including 2013 Pictometry imagery and a business analysis widget. In addition, users will soon be able to:
-Add data to the Bluffton Explorer, either Excel spreadsheets or shapefiles
-Print much faster with many more options
-E-mail a location to others
-Save bookmarks for faster navigation

I encourage you to visit our website and the Bluffton Explorer to view these features and so much more that is available. If you have ideas or suggestions for additional information or features you would like to see, please submit them on our Contact Us page. We look forward to hearing from you.

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