Saving money is important for municipalities. Taxpayers tend to ask their elected officials to spend less money, and elected officials probably want to save money however they can. I urge municipalities to not let previously used domain names expire!
This afternoon, I noticed a domain name formerly owned by a local municipality coming up for auction. This .org domain name is a pending delete domain name, so I do not believe the former registrant can renew it at this point in time. The domain name appears to have been used as a website, but the website is now resolving on a different domain name affiliated with the municipality. The Twitter account for this town agency still has the old domain name listed in its profile (the domain name that is coming up for auction), and I presume there are probably quite a few backlinks that reference the domain name.
Once the domain name goes to auction, it is almost certain that a third party will own the domain name unless someone from the town (or a benefactor) decides to re-purchase it. My guess is that the backlinks give this otherwise very specific domain name its value.
I understand that municipalities do what they can to save taxpayer money. From my perspective, letting previously used domain names is a dangerous way to save money. I think it is likely that a third party will use the domain name in a way that benefits them from a SEO perspective or perhaps as a means to generate PPC revenue. However, a bad actor could conceivably use the domain name for phishing, sending emails pretending to be acting in an official capacity, or they could use it in another fashion that harms the town and/or the agency. This could have been avoided by paying the small renewal fee. The risk totally outweighs the reward in my opinion.
Because this domain name is in pending delete status, I think it is too late for the municipality to renew it. I hope others realize the potential consequences of not renewing a previously used domain name and understand that the small savings can cause major problems in the future.
I purposely did not mention the domain name or the municipality, and I ask others to not do so either (or I may delete comments that do). I do not want to draw attention to this particular domain name, but I still feel that this is an important message even without the name mentioned.