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County approves website contract

With 4-3 vote Monday, the Beaufort County Commissioners approved a five-year contract with CivicPlus to redesign and provide hosting services for the county’s website.

CivicPlus’ redesign and first-year hosting fees total $30,273. That money will come from the fiscal year 2021-22 budget.

In October 2020, the commissioners voted 6-0 to publish a request for proposals to issue for a new five-year contract. Commissioner Jerry Langley was excused to leave early prior to that vote. The website it currently hosted by Symbiotic Networks, which is owned by Commissioner Stan Deatherage. The county’s contract with Symbiotic Networks is set to expire. The current contract was put in place before Deatherage was re-elected to the Board of Commissioners.

County Attorney David Francisco determined that it would be illegal for Deatherage to participate in the bid process because of a conflict of interest. Deatherage, with support from Hood Richardson, has contested how Francisco’s decision came to be and the legal basis for that decision. Both commissioners have asked why a change was being made in the first place particularly a change to a company that’s based out-of-state; Commissioner Randy Walker voted against the new contract because he wanted the website duties to remain in the hands of a local vendor, regardless of whether it was Deatherage’s company.

The Daily News will have more coverage of Deatherage’s reaction to the bid process later this week.

The county’s bid tabulation shows that eight companies including CivicPlus submitted bids. CivicPlus is a web development business based in Manhattan, Kansas. Two of the eight companies listed on the bid tabulation are based in North Carolina.

In its bid documents, CivicPlus said it has more than 4,000 local government clients across the U.S. and Canada. North Carolina counties that have their websites hosted by CivicPlus include Anson, Craven, Rowan and Pitt counties.

Beaufort COunty will still be responsible for producing and uploading the content that goes on its website. CivicPlus will be responsible for the site’ design and infrastructure.