March 29, 2023

Municipal Myths Debunked

Are all stories to be believed? Myths about local municipalities float around a lot: let's unpack the myths to understand the truth behind it.

In a world where we have information at our fingertips, all the time - what is the truth? And, more importantly, what do we believe? Local governments, like most other fields, are plagued with misinformation and false news, so knowing where to go for reputable information becomes a skill. 

In this blog, #TeamTownWeb delves into some of the five myths that local municipal staff come across and the context behind them. 

Myth 1: A Social Media platform is just as useful as a municipal website

False: Municipal websites provide more specific and reliable information and are seen as the official of the local government, much like the federal government has its own websites. Local government website designs are created to provide official information from local government to its communities and residents, while social media platforms rely on user-generated content (content provided by its users) this means the content is subjective, and not prescribed to any rules or regulations. Social media sites are built to encourage social connection, although it is used to share information, they are not primarily used as such.

Myth 2: All counties handle property taxes

False: Some counties have moved the responsibility of collecting property taxes to the various municipalities within the County. This is done in a case-by-case scenario. If you are unsure, contact your local municipality to check. 

Myth 3: A municipal website is super boring

False: A local government website design offers a range of information to the community and serves as an online tool as well as a meeting space; this does not mean boring. Information like agendas, minutes, upcoming events, town hall meetings and licensing information should be on your municipal website! 

A well-designed website can be visually appealing and user-friendly: municipal websites are no different. There are a variety of ways to make your website appealing to visitors: clear and concise language, intuitive navigation, easy access to a range of information and of course - videos, graphics and photos showcasing the community. Additionally, making features available on the website like subscribing to alerts, events calendar and easy ways to file reports, means community engagement. 

And, if your municipal website doesn’t do all of that - it's best you change to Town Web! We specialize in local municipal websites: not the boring ones, the really informative easy-to-use ones, that look great as well!

Myth 4: People aren’t asking for payments online

False: traditionally, payments to local municipalities are done with checks and cash. However, the request for online payments in local municipalities shouldn’t come as a surprise: credit card payments, instant payments and even QR code payments are widely accepted elsewhere. Having the infrastructure can also help you, as a Clerk, balance books, do recons and track payments more efficiently - which means you’ll have time to get to all the other items on the to-do list. 

If you’d like to explore how online payments can help you - register for this webinar on Wednesday, June 14, hosted by the Town Web digital transformation team.

Myth 5: Governments don’t need to evolve

We all know at least three popular quotes about change, right?! 

Change is a constant (cheesy, I know!), and many times we are forced to change due to circumstances (like Covid-19) while other times we choose the change. Although change feels strange and uncomfortable, in local governments the process of evolve means adapting to serve our communities better. 

Local governments play a critical role in shaping individuals and communities, their growth and their ability to adapt and evolve are essential to meet the needs of the changing times. The notion that governments don't need to evolve is a myth that can be harmful to the future of a community, town, village and the individuals who live there. 

Evolving in local government can be to offer new services and tools for residents, to change a way of doing things (like paper licenses) to a digital license for simpler processes or a local government website design built for local governments. It can mean including those who may have been excluded and offering information in different ways than before. Even though the wheels of government turn slowly, they do turn. And, as a municipal worker, you are in the position to be part of a community that evolves, grows and adapts - whatever that looks like in your community!

Stories come and go, every day. However, it’s how we choose to interact with them that makes all the difference!