New Information Tech could open Lexington City Hall to Public Review

Jun 5, 2013

Hoping to improve interaction between taxpayers and city leaders, Lexington might join an innovative, year-long, web-based effort.  Promoters also hope it will boost Lexington’s reputation as a friendly place for ‘new technology’.

In the not-too-distant future, a great deal of the data now available to city administrators could also be viewed by average citizens.  The mayor’s office has gotten behind a project dubbed ‘Code for America.’  The non-profit organization would send a trio of web experts to Lexington, rework the city’s software, and make it much more accessible to the public.  Lexington Commissioner of Planning Derek Paulsen predicts it will enhance civic engagement

“That information would also be available to the public in an easy to see format.  So, they could get on line and know is my neighbor building, do they have a permit for what they’re building right now, has that code enforcement call that I called about been handled, what kind of crimes are in my neighborhood.  Again, being able to see things going in their community a little bit better,” said Paulsen.

Besides promoting engagement, promoters say such a project would also enhance Lexington’s image among potential employers.  Nick Such is with Awesome  Inc….the organization creates and nurtures high-tech, start-up companies.

“This is something that really puts us on the map and a lot of the secondary benefits are really powerful things for us.  So, having connections in Silicon Valley, although we have quite a few of them already in Lexington, this provides us with an even stronger network there,” said Such.

The one year project carries a 360-thousand dollar pricetag, but the non profit requires half the money come from private and philanthropic interests.  Still, Council member Kevin Stinnett worries about ongoing costs…such as system maintenance.

“Cause I know we had this conversation, it haunts us, when we were on council in 2006.  We were told we were going to a new financial platform and we didn’t have the expertise in house to do it.  At the time, we were told we did,” added Stinnett.

Chad Cottle, who helps manage the city’s computers, believes maintenance costs will be minimal.  The city must make up its mind by August.  And, if it cannot raise the needed dollars, city administrators say they will not move forward with the project.  If finalized, work would begin in January.