Government Web site to offer services

In Baltimore County, residents will go online to avoid standing in line

June 30, 1999|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,SUN STAFF

You may not need a computer to pay parking tickets or property taxes in Baltimore County.

But by next year, it could help.

County officials plan to spend $100,000 to make the county Web site interactive in coming months so that basic services -- such as payment of parking tickets and tax bills -- can be performed over the Internet, said Thomas Iler, director of Baltimore County's Office of Information Technology.

Iler told the County Council at a work session yesterday that the contract with Systems Alliance Inc. of Hunt Valley will give those who browse the county's Web site better updates about public meetings, zoning issues, ordinances and holiday work schedules.

The council is expected to approve the contract at its meeting Tuesday night.

Iler said that he has to talk with County Executive C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger about the services to be provided, but that payment of tax bills and applications for building, electrical and plumbing permits are likely candidates.

"I think it'll save a lot of people a lot of time," said Baltimore County Zoning Administrator Arnold Jablon.

Jablon said contractors often are lined up outside his office waiting for one of five staffers to review and approve permits required by Baltimore County for plumbing and electrical work.

Iler said that with online services increasing, people are becoming less patient about such waits.

The county's Web site includes listings of county agencies, phone numbers and photographs and information about county officials. The number of "hits" on the county's Web page increased from 37,044 in the spring of 1997 to 1.6 million this spring, said Iler.

"More and more people are demanding this kind of service," he said.

Other government agencies are also upgrading their Web sites.

The Montgomery County Council will review a similar request from county officials this summer to spend $1.1 million to upgrade its Web site so that residents can pay taxes and parking tickets and register for classes at the county's community college online, said Donna Bigler, a Montgomery County spokeswoman.

Ron Heacock, interim vice chancellor for technology and planning at the Community Colleges of Baltimore County, said a $2.5 million computer system, purchased in 1996, is being upgraded so that students should be able to register for classes over the Internet by January.

The Motor Vehicle Administration spent $500,000 last year to upgrade its Web site with a home page that, since November, has let motorists register vehicles and download forms.

Caryn Coyle, an MVA spokeswoman, said plans call for additional services to be available on the Web in the future.

"We'll do what we can to keep people from having to wait in line, whenever possible," she said.

Pub Date: 6/30/99

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