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To reach wider audience, Southold Town to create Facebook page

Southold Town is planning to join the 21st century on Facebook.

Government liaison Denis Noncarrow and Network & Systems Administrator Lloyd Reisenberg pitched the idea to town officials during a work session Tuesday, citing a need to share information more efficiently.

Currently, Mr. Noncarrow said that in addition to the town’s official website and Channel 22, the town uses local media, radio, and email newsletters to share information — and it still doesn’t reach everyone. 

“We’re at the conclusion that we’ve got to hit everything,” he said.

Recreation Supervisor Janet Douglass already maintains a Facebook page for the Recreation department to share information about programs and upcoming events.

Mr. Reisenberg said that a townwide Facebook page could help promote different meetings, events and public hearings. He’d ask department heads and Town Board members to feed information to him so the page could be updated regularly. 

“If we don’t do that, it’s stale,” he said. “It takes time to do this, but it’s time well spent.”

While there was some back and forth on whether or not to allow commenting on the social media platform, town board members were receptive to the idea.

“People like their [Facebook] feeds,” Councilwoman Jill Doherty said. “They want to get their news there.” 

Councilwoman Sarah Nappa agreed, noting that not everyone reads the paper or tunes into the public access channel. 

“We need to spread information in other ways,” she said.

The board also continued a discussion on whether to pursue a software upgrade to Municity 5, a land management app used widely by several town departments. Mr. Reisenberg’s latest estimate for the upgrade is $51,400, with additional yearly maintenance costs of approximately $13,000.

He said the cloud-based nature of the software could allow for public access to records via Laserfiche. 

Councilman Jim Dinizio remains opposed to purchasing the software upgrade without consulting with the departments who use it, which include building, planning, zoning, land preservation, town attorneys and code enforcement.

“In the second meeting of January, we’re asking for $50,000 we don’t have. I understand that we should be upgrading — I support that fully — but we need a plan as to how this is going to work with the department heads,” he said, arguing that each department should demonstrate how the program would be used and commit to using it.

He compared the proposal to the purchase of several iPads for code enforcement officials that he said weren’t being used to their full capacity, noting that the town should support them with training and information.

Supervisor Scott Russell characterized his position as “cynical to think you’re going to have to drag and force [departments] into using” the software, but agreed to discuss the proposal at an upcoming department head meeting.

Mr. Russell said money in the budget could be reallocated if the board decides to approve the expenditure. “We do budget modifications all year,” he said. “There are expenditures you don’t see when you adopt a budget in November.”