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Board chooses lower
cost option for web site

by Alan McArthur
Landmark reporter

Going against the more expensive recommendation made by staff in regard to upgrading the city’s web site, Platte City's board of aldermen made a value decision to ignore a staff preference and selected the lowest bidder instead.

After a split vote by the city's economic development subcommittee at a meeting last week, the full board unanimously approved a resolution to select the lower of two final bidders to redesign and host the city's website, choosing to save the city $17,000 compared to staff's recommendation to go with the highest bidder.

According to a report by D.J. Gehrt, city administrator, staff recommended selecting Civic Plus for the web development with a cost of $28,368 over three years compared to Municipal CMS which has a cost of $11,100 over three years.

The current website is difficult for residents and staff members to use and difficult for staff to maintain, according to the report. The city wants the website to offer “online utility account management, email billing, positive notification, and a mobile app format.”

Some goals for the city is to allow residents to be able to pay water bills online through the website and to allow automatic updating/emailing of news releases and board documents to residents.

A five person selection committee made up of senior staff members evaluated six submittals and recommended Civic Plus from Manhattan, Kansas over Municipal CMS of Smithville, Missouri. The report said both firms were capable of meeting the city's needs, but that Civic Plus was slightly more effective in meeting the city's requirements.

“I know the website needs extreme updating,” said Tony Paolillo, alderman. “For my benefit what makes them $17,000 better?”

Gehrt explained that city staff knows the cost of everything and is able to make a recommendation based on cost, but the board is able to make decisions based on value.

“During an RFP process, as opposed to a pure cost bid process, the technical selection is made prior to reviewing cost proposals. The technical selection rated Civic Plus slightly higher than Municipal CMS,” Gehrt wrote in the report.

“Staff does not normally recommend the higher priced option. However, in this case, staff believes that the level of certainty the Civic Plus can provide in providing long term web hosting and support is superior to the capacity of Municipal CMS to do the same. Municipal CMS would be severely challenged by the loss of one or two key staff members. Civic Plus is a large nationwide company that has been in existence for over 20 years. Although Civic Plus will cost $17,625 more over three years than Municipal CMS; staff believes the level of certainty provided by the company is worth the extra cost.”

Toni Oesterle, director of client services for Municipal CMS, was at the meeting to answer questions from the board.

Municipal CMS will cost $3,400 per year for the first three years. After the third year, the city may continue to host the site through Municipal CMS for a reduced cost, Oesterle told the board.

The city has budgeted $20,000 in the current fiscal year to pay for web development.

The board approved selecting Municipal CMS with a vote of 6-0.

The board also approved appointing Ron Stone and Drew Sharp to the Planning and Zoning Commission.