Northeast Town launches new website, including ‘virtual town office’

The new and improved Northeast Town website offers ratepayers a chance to manage their accounts from anywhere they have internet access.

NORTHEAST TOWN – Residents of the Town of Northeastern Manitoulin and the Islands (Northeast Town), or those who are thinking of becoming a taxpayer in that municipality, have a brand-new, easy-to-navigate website at their disposal.

Northeast Town treasurer Sheryl Wilkin walked Expositor staff through the new site last week.

“It’s fresher, cleaner and not as busy,” she says, admitting that the former site, while pretty, was hard to load. “It still features scenic shots of the municipality, it just doesn’t interfere with the functionality of the website.”

The home page of the website is indeed clean and functional. Four main categories at the top of the page invite people to peruse living, which includes everything from taxes, library and landfill hours to coming events; and visiting, which includes sections on the municipality’s history, getting here by boat or aircraft (to Manitoulin East Municipal Airport) and information about the Centennial Museum of Sheguiandah; business, with a Northeast Town business directory; and administration, with subjects relating to municipal governance, like council agendas and minutes (in PDF form), bylaws, financial reports and more.

The bottom of the page features quick links to the current fire rating, council agenda and minutes, community calendar, waste and recycling information and My Town, a special website feature that allows ratepayers to create a profile and manage their accounts for taxes and water.

The municipality is especially pleased with My Town which is, in effect, a “virtual town office,” Ms. Wilkin explains. “Rather than come into the office, you can now go online, register and look at your account.”

Taxpayers’ My Town account also holds historical balances and shows amounts owing.

“It gives community members another option of keeping track of where they are,” Ms. Wilkin says, “and also offers them the chance to pay online using debit VISA or Mastercard or credit card.” Currently, the town office does not accept credit card payments, but this can be done online through a safe, secure system.

To register, look to the bottom of the website homepage where you’ll see a finger pointing to ‘My Town Login’ and click here. Before you go any further, be sure to have a tax or water bill and or municipal invoice or statement handy as you will be prompted for some information.

Next, click on the ‘activate your account with us’ link which will take you to the setup page. Here you will choose a username (up to 15 characters) and create a password (at least eight characters, which must include a mix of upper case and lower case letters and at least one number and one symbol). You will then be asked for a valid email address as your contact email. Once this is complete, hit the ‘next’ button and you will be taken to a personal information tab where you will be asked for information from your tax bill, water bill or a receivable invoice, picking one of these to set up the account. Once completed, a message saying ‘Your account registration was successful. An email has been sent to confirm your account creation’ will be sent to the email provided. Click on the link provided within that email and another message will pop up stating ‘Success! Your account has been activated.’ You can now use My Town to its full extent including viewing all property assessments within the municipality (no personal information is provided here, just tax roll numbers—public information), sign up for e-billing or change your banking information. Access to My Town will also allow registered law offices to request and print tax certificates (though they must call the municipal office to register for this service first).

“We streamlined the process and have given people more options while knowing where they stand, especially in this municipality that has a lot of seasonal residents,” Ms. Wilkin adds. “We hope to make it easier for more taxpayers.”

The new and improved website, and My Town service, comes in at a cost of approximately $35,000, paid for with funds from the provincial modernization and efficiency fund for small and rural municipalities.