City hires local company for website redesign, approves new firefighter contract


by KVUE News

Posted on December 17, 2009 at 6:23 PM

The Austin City Council tackled several hot topics Thursday, ranging from raises for firefighters to re-designing the city's website.

In a 7-0 vote the council agreed to hire SteelSMBology Inc., a local firm to help re-design the city’s website. 

“This will be a comprehensive city website, and we’re all very excited about it,” said Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell.

The issue sparked controversy earlier this year when the city manager's office recommended outsourcing the job to a California company for about $700,000. After a backlash, the council re-opened the bidding process and issued a new set of requirements, making it easier for a local company to submit a winning bid.

“It’s a great moment for us all to know were moving forward and everyone is behind us and were going to do some great things,” said Charles Purma, project manager, City of Austin.

The city will continue to gather community input throughout the process.

The council also approved a new contract for Austin firefighters.

The deal gives the fire department more flexibility in hiring practices - something the city wanted to help make the department more representative of the community. Firefighters will also receive a 3 percent raise for each of the next three years.

Council member Bill Spelman was the only one to vote against the contract. He says he supports firefighters, but doesn't believe the city can afford to spend another $25 million. 

“Our taxes have gone up our cost of living has gone up wages are stagnant people are hurting,” Spelman said.  “I think in a situation like this we need to be really careful before we enter into any more spending.”

Leffingwell disagreed, saying the contract falls in line with other public safety contracts.

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