By Nate Smith
WASHINGTON — Find a pothole? See some trash? Need to get a building permit?
Now, there’s an app for that.
Announced during Monday’s city council meeting, the city of Washington has started a mobile app that can direct residents to city departments and let them know about issues in the city.
City information technology chief Rex Fleetwood said the app is part of the city’s Citizens Action Center, a portal that gets questions answered and issues resolved for residents.
On the web page and on the app, citizens can point out problems, apply for jobs, or start city building and utility permits. Fleetwood said the right issue will go to the appropriate department head. On the mobile app, citizens can upload a photo of the area.
“Citizens themselves can get questions answered in a more timely manner,” Fleetwood said. “There’s an accountability that our citizens can count on.”
Fleetwood said the app and the action center is serviced through WebQA, a company that supplies mobile solutions to local governments. The cost to the city is $200 a month.
“It’s cool technology and we are real excited to get it to the city,” Fleetwood said.
Although residents can start utilities at a home or start building permits, they have to come into the office and pay the deposits.
The mobile app is for iPhones and smartphones that use the Android platform. The easiest way to find the app is to search with the words “Washington IN.”
Fleetwood said there will be more options added to the app later as they become available.
“It’s very informational for our offices because it saves a lot of steps they have to do,” Building Commissioner Terry Wininger said.
Council members were impressed.
“Sounds like a good system,” Councilman Blake Chambers said.
Mayor Joe Wellman told the council that annexation of portions of the east side of the city were complete. A letter has been sent to residents notifying them of the change.
Wellman also said city trash, police and fire protection will go into effect on Sept. 1. The mayor said it is a date sooner than expected. The city is currently applying to the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission to transfer a small utility in the annexation zone to its control.
The council heard the first reading of two ordinances Monday. The first was a change in the city’s fair housing ordinance to reflect changes in federal law.
The second was the ordinance to change council districts in the city. According to the ordinance, council districts will be as follows:
* District 1 - Precincts 5 and 15
* District 2 - Precincts 6, 7 and 12
* District 3 - Precincts 8 and 9
* District 4 - Precincts 10 and 11
* District 5 - Precincts 13 and 14
The changes come in District 2, where Precinct 12 was added and taken away from Districts 4 and 5.
While the ordinance was being read, there was confusion on the numbers used in the ordinance. City attorney Tim Dant said the numbers were different than what he previously knew.
“Those weren’t the numbers that were given to me,” Dant said.
The rest of the ordinance, Dant said, was correct. But Councilman Jim Greene disagreed and thought he was getting different districts.
“I thought I was going to keep (precincts) 13 and 15 the same,” Greene said.
Wellman said the issues will be sorted out before the council votes on the ordinance at its March 25 meeting.
In other business, Wellman said the city received an award from the American Council of Engineering Companies for its CSO and wetland project, completed last year. The project, started by Wellman’s predecessor Larry Haag, was named one of the top infrastructure projects in the state.
Wellman said the wetland is up for national awards as well. In other awards news, Wellman said the city is one of 24 communities throughout the state who have expressed interest in the state’s Stellar Communities grant. Monday, he said, six finalists are going to be named for the grant.
Every Saturday in April will have events, Wellman said. German American Bank will hold its community clean up day on April 6 and Perdue Farms will hold its annual “Project Clean Stream” event on April 13. For Earth Day on April 20, Wellman said the city is planning events for its recycling initiative and April 27 is slated for the annual drug take-back day at the police and fire departments.
During the Board of Public Works meeting, the board voted to close portions of South and S.W. First streets on April 6 for the WHS Band Booster’s “Drive One for your School” fundraiser with Bill Dobson Ford.
The board also voted to award a farm lease to Armes Brothers for land near the city’s water treatment plant. In personnel news, the board voted to promote Rex Davis from lead animal control officer to assistant office manager. Davis replaces a retiring Jerry Johnson.
Animal Control Manager Beth Trousdale reported good news with the recent t-shirt and donation drive. She said the shelter sold 173 t-shirts and is still receiving donations for an outdoor area for the pets.