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New SF city website comes with hefty price tag

SANTA FE, N.M. — The city of Santa Fe has a brand new website – and it comes with a fairly hefty price tag.

But city spokesperson Jodi McGinnis Porter said officials wanted to improve “the look and feel” of the city’s website, as well as ease navigation. It also should be easier for city employees to add information to the new site, Porter said.

Porter said the city will see savings of nearly $28,000 annually in hosting fees. Desert Elements, a local company, built the new site for the city at a cost of $233,800.

The new website went live Friday afternoon, although it’s still something of a work in progress.

“We launched Friday with some technical difficulties. The previous company failed to get us some information in a timely manner,” Porter said. “We took a leap of faith and went for it, and we’re currently working on it right now.”

Porter said the city made the switch because the old website’s operating system, created by a company called Civic Plus, had a number of limitations. Civic Plus hosted the site for about seven years, but officials decided a couple of years ago to look at new website options as Civic Plus’s contract neared an end.

Porter said Civic Plus’s template kept Santa Fe’s site operating within certain parameters. For example, someone applying for a city job through the website was limited to a certain number of characters when typing in job description details.

“There’s only so many things you can do in that template. The city was restricted,” Porter said. “We were in the constraints of that company’s proprietary software.”

Also, Porter said that because Civic Plus owned the city’s website code, Santa Fe was in the position of being left empty-handed unless it chose to continually renew its contract with the company.

“Their website code is proprietary. They own it and without using their code and paying them for it the city would not be able (to operate) the website,” Porter said in an email.

With Desert Elements, the city purchased the code used to create the website.

It’s a big investment, Porter acknowledged, but it’s an investment she said should pay off as the city becomes better able to adapt to ever-changing technology.

“The city owns this website and we’re not dealing with proprietary software. We can customize as we grow,” she said. “We’re not limited to another company, depending on the other company.”

Civic Plus built the city’s old website for $74,900. The city also paid the company $33,200 annually in hosting fees. The latter sum will drop to $5,518 with the Desert Elements site.

Porter called it a plus that Desert Elements and Brown Rice, the company that now hosts the website, are both based in New Mexico.