Georgetown moves on Web site

After some controversy, the city of Georgetown has contracted with lowest bidder E-Gov Link to redesign its Web site and provide Web hosting services for $4,700.

The city's Web site is outdated and hard to keep current using its current vendor, said network administrator Kevin Rapp, with the city of Georgetown.

City Administrator Chris Eldridge said the contract was signed Wednesday, and the page is expected to be ready by end of June.

Nearly a week earlier, the City Council stalled in its decision on whether to hire E-Gov Link. Although the company was recommended by city staff, several council members proposed selecting a local vendor, who was $230 more expensive.

Others stood opposed, alleging favoritism and illegal bidding procedure when local vendor Methods Development Inc. was brought forward during the last council meeting. MDI's bid came in at $4,930.

It turns out the City Council did not need to approve the bid at all. The city's procurement policy allows projects under $25,000 to be approved by department heads or the city administrator. Staff members moved forward.

Eldridge said he did not know why Finance Director Jessica Miller brought the issue before the council.

"Each department head chooses what they want to go on the agenda," he said.

Eldridge does have oversight of the agenda. He did not say why he allowed it.

Miller did not return a call for comment Wednesday.

Councilman Brendon Barber said he understood why Miller brought the matter before council.

"She put it on the agenda to show respect," Barber said. "She did not have to do it. She wanted to make council members aware. She did that to appease certain members of council in light of what she has been through."

Miller was put on administrative leave Feb. 19 for about two weeks. The city did not disclose the reasons, saying it was a personnel matter.

Barber supported the staff's recommendation to move forward on the contract. He said the new site would help with transparency, allowing the city to post documents like the budget and policy manuals online.

"We did the right thing. E-Gov has the experience, and they do a good job," Barber said. "That is going to be taxpayer money well-spent."

Barber also was one of the council members who spoke out when the MDI bidder was the only bidder who was called up to the podium to speak. He said it was unfair to other bidders not present and not allowed the same opportunity.

"If we stick to policy, maybe we will stay out of the newspaper," Barber said.

Councilman Paige Sawyer made the recommendation for the local bidder, MDI, which is in Georgetown. The vendor also lives in Sawyer's neighborhood. Sawyer denied favoritism.

"I think anytime we can do business in the city, we should," Sawyer said.

He said the staff most likely went to council for approval to be cautious and wanted to show they selected the lowest bid.

He was also glad the city was moving on with the new Web site.

"Anything would be better than what we have now," Sawyer said.