The Town of Tillsonburg, a small southwestern Ontario municipality in Oxford County, Monday announced the next step in its e-government strategy at the MISA launch of City Hall Online: A Progress Report on Municipal E-government in Ontario in London, Ont.

Dave Morris, chief administrative

officer for Tillsonburg, says funding from Ontario Connects will enable the town to offer bill payment online and over the phone, as well as registration for Parks and Recreation programs.

The initiative is part of Oxford County’s $1.5 million County Of Oxford OnLine (COOL) portal project.

The town went through a major restructuring in 1999, when it moved all its customer services under one roof and extended hours, he says. It then moved to a 24×7 call centre.

“”A natural extension of that was to move into citizen-related services outside the traditional office situation,”” he says.

The project goes live on Aug. 21, to coincide with the launch of the Fall Parks & Rec brochure, with the e-payments component planned for early January 2003.

“”From the town’s point of view this was part of our strategic plan in terms of delivering service to citizens,”” says Morris.

But beyond increased convenience for residents, there’s another upside to the project, he adds: return on investment.

Morris says the town has been able to hold off tax increases over the past three years and even decreased taxes one year, a bonus he says can be attributed to the use of e-government technology.

“”People want the service, they want it to be efficient and they’d like it so they don’t have to pay extra for it.””

Providing the software for the services is Burnaby, B.C.-based Class Software Solutions, while Delaware, Ont.-based Integral Network Solutions is providing the integration and consulting services.

Robert Musty, a consultant with Integral, says the biggest challenges the project will present are those of changing a culture that has been used to working one way for many years.

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