JAMESTOWN – The city of Jamestown could soon have another tool to help fight the growing problem of housing and residential blight in the community.
On Monday night, Jamestown mayor Sam Teresi and city development director Vince DeJoy announced to the Jamestown City Council that they want to see a new software program that not only will allow residents to file code complaints online, but also make it easier for code enforcement to track and follow up on various housing violations that have been issued.
The new internet-based program is from a company called MyGov and is currently being utilized by dozens of other communities across the country. In addition to allowing anyone in the public to file complaints over the Internet, it will also serve as a public database allowing residents to look up the status of any residential property in the city.
DeJoy said the new software will create more efficiency for the city’s code enforcement officers and more transparency for the public.
“What happens is these problem properties don’t get lost,” DeJoy said. “They don’t get lost in the shuffle and there’s constant alerts to let us know that action still needs to be taken. If somebody initiates a new complaint – someone takes a pictures in front of a house and see is a zombie property or a problem property – that complaint is automatically registered and tracked, and they can track it and, quite frankly, they can hold our feet to the fire.”
Mayor Teresi added the MyGov software will not fix all of the city’s housing problems, but is an important step in getting the city into the 21st century, in terms of how it approaches code enforcement. He said that several other departments, including law enforcement and the BPU already utilize updated technology and its time code enforcement also gets an upgrade.
DeJoy also that prior to introducing the program to the city council on Monday night, he and other members of the administration researched several pieces of software and felt that MyGov was by far the best available. He said that a community in Ohio, similar to Jamestown, is one that has recently installed the software.
“Strongsville, Ohio is a community of 35,000 people, a city outside of Cleveland and very similar in terms of their housing dynamics, and they love it,” DeJoy said. “They’re still building it out, because they’re thinking of new functionality every day and that’s what really excites them.”
DeJoy says that if the city council gives its approval to implementing the new software, it would have an initial start up cost of $30,000 with an annual subscription cost of about $20,000. That cost is $5,000 more a year than what the city is currently paying, but city officials say the increase in cost is modest when compared to the significant improvement it would provide.
The council will likely act on purchasing the software during the July voting session.