Keller City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night against spending up to $280,000 of taxpayer dollars on doing for Keller businesses what they can already do on their own for free.

Earlier this year, Keller’s Economic Development Board began working on a plan to address the fact that very few results show up when people use Google to search for businesses within Keller, and that fixing this issue would help increase sales tax revenues.

The board’s solution to this was to contract a vendor, 360 Life View, to help all but home-based Keller businesses create a “Google My Business” account including digital photography and filmography at the cost of $300 per business. The rest of the cost would be picked up by the taxpayers, which the Director of Public Services and Economic Development Trina Zais claimed would be “primarily determined by the number of participating businesses.” If 25 percent of Keller businesses participated, the cost to taxpayers would be $56,700. If there were full participation from all Keller businesses, the cost would skyrocket to $226,200. So taxpayers would be on the hook for more money as more businesses enroll — even though the businesses are paying $300 for the service.

But why did the city set aside $280,000 in their budget for this program instead of $226,200?

Zais explained that when they started, they didn’t know what all the costs would be until they mapped out all the businesses in Keller and made other projections. But part of the answer could be that — as Councilman Sean Hicks pointed out — whether the city signs up or not, the vendor would be taking photos of every business in Keller at the cost of $37.50 per building, for a minimum of $29,000.

And all this for a service Google already provides for free. When asked by Councilman Tag Green which of these services the businesses could do on their own, 360 Life View CEO Luke Robinson responded, “I think you can do all of these things.” He added that not everyone knows how. Hicks noted there are several hundred free videos available to help teach business owners how to get the most out of Google My Business.

Public call to actions by Hicks and former Councilman Armin Mizani generated “a lot of concern” about the issue among taxpayers, Mayor Pat McGrail reported. As a result of the immense pushback from the people of Keller, the city council voted down this waste of cash.

“In my own personal opinion, I think government belongs in streets, roads, and public safety,” Hicks said. “This is not something the City of Keller should pursue.”

Robert Montoya

A former filmmaker, University of North Texas graduate, and one-time assistant language teacher, Robert Montoya misses Japan and the 1980s. He is an investigative reporter for Texas Scorecard.

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