In an effort to encourage greater transparency, the State Legislature passed legislation (SB 929) requiring all independent special districts to have a website by January, 2020. These websites must make available specific information including district and board member contact information, board meeting agendas, links to financial reports and more.
Hardship exemptions are allowed but they are limited. Possible reasons for this exemption may include lack of access to broadband Internet, insufficient staff to maintain a website or inadequate financial resources. However, these hardships may be difficult to substantiate for all but the smallest of districts. For example, if a district doesn’t already have a website, but does use email or has a Facebook page, it may be hard to claim it also doesn’t have broadband access. In addition, web products that are inexpensive and simple to operate, do exist. Lastly, if a district wants to claim a hardship exemption, they must pass a resolution annually to do so – an action that result in a negative reaction from the public.
In any event, meeting the requirements of SB 929 is just the beginning. Once a district has a website, it must meet a myriad of additional State and Federal laws the most challenging of which is ADA compliance.
With all of this in mind, we conducted some research to identify options for our members to meet these requirements. There exists some reasonably priced do-it-yourself website providers such as Wix (www.wix.com) that are relatively easy to configure and very reasonably priced. However, such a tool would require a district to hire a consultant or train staff to become familiar with all the related legal requirements.
To light of this, we recommend that most of our members use a product from a company called Streamline. This Sacramento company has developed a platform that allows districts to easily comply with State and Federal web requirements. The sites developed on their platform are not only compliant, they are fast and easy to setup and maintain and very inexpensive (as low as $20 per month.)
If your district needs to become compliant, you should visit Streamline’s website at www.getstreamline.com. It has a wealth of information, including handouts and webinars, that discuss district web compliance in detail. If you like, they will develop a demo site for your district at no cost and, as a GSRMA member, they offer 3 months of hosting for free.
The best source for additional information is Streamline’s website. Also, a representatives from Streamline will be co-presenting a session related to the subject at our Annual Training day on October 24th. And, as always, if you have additional questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to our member services team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Click here to view the California Website Compliance Checklist