Sitting on the board of the National Association of Government Webmasters, whose members are entirely local and state government web people, I’ve had a high level view of this trend over the last two years. Some local governments were affected as early as 2008, but many have really suffered in 2009 and this year. I really don’t see things improving for our members for a few years.
Both property and sales taxes have been significantly down in most regions of the country, which has a profound affect on city and county budgets. Add in to that reduced budgets at the state level, which often equates to less state money being passed down to the local government level, and it just gets worse.
The frustrating part is, even if the economy recovers today, at the local level, we’ll still be dealing with the affects for a few years.
It has definitely been tough for our members. I’ve seen a lot of early retirements and members just losing their jobs due to cuts. We’ve also been affected by hiring and wage freezes, reduced training budgets, out-of-state travel bans, etc. That’s one of the reasons NAGW offers free online training webinars to our membership.
I’ve also noticed a vastly increased workload for our members as departments with reduced budgets naturally turn to the web as a place to disseminate information and reach constituents. Of course, we’re all dealing with that increased workload without the benefit of additional staff or increased budgets. It’s nice to be in demand, but it has certainly been a lot more stressful for our members.
The nice thing in all of this is that NAGW was formed to help local and state webmasters in times like these. We’ve been relying heavily on sharing knowledge and resources amongst our membership via our members listserv, resource library and conference. This is just the sort of situation where we shine: helping each other out when we most need it.