John McKown's Blog

Family Man - Motorcyclist - Web Guy - Loving Colorado as My Home

The City of Santa Fe paid over $233,000 to leave CivicPlus

A recent newspaper article from the Albuquerque Journal in New Mexico exposed the true cost of using CivicPlus to build and host a large municipal website, and also the enormous cost of trying to replace a CivicPlus website with a "roll-your-own" solution using open-source software and custom programming from scratch. The result was one whopper of a bill ($233,800) for the City of Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Santa Fe was desperate to get away from their website provider CivicPlus. So desperate in fact, that they hired a local company to build a new website based on an open-source PHP-based CMS. My guess is that they did this so that they could “own” the code. But owning code isn’t all it is cracked up to be if you have to pay developers for debugging, feature additions, and maintenance. The site also took over a year to build. And the costs probably won't end there.

"Civic Plus built the city’s old website for $74,900.
The city also paid the company $33,200 annually in hosting fees. 

Besides the development cost, another whopper in the article is the revelation that CivicPlus was charging Santa Fe over $30,000 per year to host the website. That is an absurd cost for website hosting. Even if Santa Fe had a dedicated server environment, that cost was still too high. We have witnessed very small municipalities paying over $5000 per year to CivicPlus simply for hosting, and now they are quoting their hosting as part of multi-year agreements, which traps their customers (like Santa Fe). Being locked-in was one of the reasons why Santa Fe wanted to leave CivicPlus.

The issues that Santa Fe, NM faced with CivicPlus and their local web development company represent cautionary tales that have heard before. We look carefully at stories like this and the feedback we hear from municipalities to determine how we might best improve our products and services.  In 2014, we will release our next major update to our website management platform for municipalities. It is a MAJOR update to our platform that we have been working on since July, 2013. It will open new markets for us, and it will leapfrog the other competitors in this space.

We will beat any quote from CivicPlus, Vision Internet, Revize, and many other national website development firms that focus on municipalities. Contact us for a quote to rebuild your municipal website and save tens of thousands of dollars, stay on-time with your project deadlines, and save thousands in hosting. Our quote form is right on our website at

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