VIERA, Florida -- Brevard County will have to pay for its tourism marketing website twice following a County Commission vote yesterday approving a request by the Tourist Development Council (TDC) to terminate its website development contract with FLORIDA TODAY Communications so it could go with a second website developer known as "Simple View" based out of Tucson, Arizona.
According to documents filed with the County, the TDC has already paid $59,500 to FLORIDA TODAY to develop its website, visitspacecoast.com, in late 2012 plus an additional $1,500 per month for website hosting and maintenance. The TDC's contract documents show that the actual website development was handled by "Gannett Local" which was a division of FLORIDA TODAY's parent company, Gannett.
"We went into the contract, and we realized that, by through mutual agreement, that we were not going to be able to fulfill that contract with the technology that their portion of the company up in Nashville was providing," said Director of Tourism Development Rob Varley.
"Simple View actually was the company that the Marketing Committee rated number one, and the TDC changed that around," Varley said.
The money spent on the first website developer, plus the costs for a second developer to re-design the website, will cost taxpayers over a quarter-of-a-million dollars, according to documents filed with the County.
Although the TDC will have to pay for the website development twice, Varley noted that FLORIDA TODAY did provide the TDC with a "rich collection of photographs" and "some video."
FLORIDA TODAY often reports on news stories of concern to the TDC, but did not disclose its financial interest in the tourism tax or other related issues to its readers. The local newspaper and its related companies received over $260,000 in Brevard County taxpayer money for various services in fiscal year 2012/2013.