EUGENE, Ore. (KMTR) -- The City of Eugene is moving forward with plans to build a brand new website, so is the price tag worth it? City officials believe it is if you're considering the long term savings.
A Manhattan, Kansas-based company, Civic Plus will spend the next several months rebuilding Eugene's city website for a cost of $175,000. The city has been looking at redesigning its website for the last several years, but finally decided to do it in early 2011.
It likely comes as no surprise in the tough economy that spending $175,000 on a website has already drawn intense criticism from the public. KMTR NewsSource 16 posted the original story about the new website online Monday, August 29th, 2011. Several people fired back comments, critical about the expenditure.
But the city says, the investment is worth it.
“We feel it's one of our better tools to be able to continue the service levels we've been doing at a less cost,” says Johnny Medlin, project manager for the City of Eugene's website replacement.
Eugene chose to go for a new website after it found out that it's current website platform was about to be discontinued. The vendor, “PlumTree” was bought out by another company called “Oracle.” Oracle recently announced it would cease all support and upgrades for the PlumTree web system.
Before making a decision, the city surveyed website users. More than 800 people responded with various critiques. (Read the survey results here: http://www.eugene-or.gov/portal/server.pt/gateway/PTARGS_0_2_363786_0_0_18/public_survey_results_12_17_10.pdf.)
In March 2011, the city moved forward with a request for proposals and a $400,000 budget. (Read more on the request for proposals at the following link: http://www.eugene-or.gov/portal/server.pt/gateway/PTARGS_0_2_367985_0_0_18/2011200055%20Public%20Website%20Redevelopment%20Software%20Services%20COMPLETE.PDF.)
The request for proposals detailed several areas that the city wants to enhance on the website, including a better search function, along with a mobile version of its site.
After about 6 weeks of publicly advertising the request for proposals in the public, the city received bids from 6 different companies, all from outside of Oregon. The city says everyone was invited to submit their own proposals, however, no Eugene or Oregon companies submitted their work.
The city picked Civic Plus for $175,000 because of its work with other government agencies in the past. (For more on Civic Plus' work, click the following link: http://www.civicplus.com/.)
“While someone might feel like we could have used that differently, and realistically so, I could understand how they feel that way... but we feel that this multiplies our ability to get information out and is actually going to be able to do more with that amount of money than putting it towards staff services or contractual services,” says Medlin.
In the long run, the city believes the website replacement will save it money. One element it's banking on is the help it provide, allowing the city to be more efficient with the the public accessing information more easily.
Another element involves the structure of the website. Today, Eugene houses the servers its website runs on. With the new company, the website will be hosted on remote servers with back-ups, ensuring less downtime on the site's availability.
The money to pay for the site comes from a dedicated “telecommunications fund.” The fund was established in 1997, with all of the money inside of it coming from “telecom business privilege taxes.” According to the fund's rules, all of the money inside of the fund has to go to tech related projects that benefit Eugene.
Eugene is hoping to go live with its new website before the 2012 U.S.A. Track and Field Olympic Trials.
As the site is being built, the city is looking to create a focus group to help mold its look.
For more information on the new City of Eugene website redesign, click the following link: http://www.eugene-or.gov/input.