Mays files lawsuit against the city

P.F. Mays and Associates filed a lawsuit against the Monticello mayor and city council for rejecting their bid for economic development services in late 2014 and awarding the contract for service to Monticello Economic Development Commission (MEDC).

According to the documents filed Thursday in the Drew County Circuit Clerk’s Office, Mayor Zack Tucker and aldermen Al Peer, Carolyn Brown, Raymond Hubbard, Paige Chase, Claudia Hartness, Beverly Hudson, Joe Meeks and Cedric Leonard were named as defendants in the suit.

The suit states, “this is an action brought for violation of Arkansas state law including provisions for bidding processes for purchases and contracts under A.C.A 14-58-303 and 19-11-229.”

According to the documents, Mays claims they requested a copy of the bid package for economic development services for 2015.

“Since 1998, the same bidder has repeatedly received the yearly contract for these services,” the paperwork states.

Mays alleges the city changed the requirements for the bid to include not only the submission of a sealed bid but to also present an oral presentation before the city’s budget committee.

“The plaintiff was told only after this presentation to the committee, the city council would either accept or reject the plaintiff’s bid,” the documents read.

After the oral representations were made, the committee took no vote and made no recommendation to the city council.

The documents claim the council discussed how the city could “go about awarding the contract to MEDC ins pits of the low bid”  even though Mays had the lowest bid.  

In the December 18, 2014 council meeting, MEDC’s bid in the amount of $280,617 for 2015 was accepted by a council vote of 7-1 over the lower bid of $264,000 submitted by P.F. Mays and Associates, LLC.

Discussions about the economic development contract pointed out that the advertisement to accept bids had inadvertently omitted some of the services provided to the city through MEDC. These services were not listed in the bid advertisement included the salaried position of the city property inspector, Brian Rodgers, as well as the loan and insurance payments due on the speculative building at the MEDC’s Industrial Park.

During a special called council meeting on December 29, 2014, City Attorney Whitt Barton informed the city council they would need to advertise a bid for professional services including the left out requirements.

Mays alleges in the suit that the requirements mandated could only be met by MEDC “in order to ensure the contract could be awarded to MEDC alone.”

On December 30, 2014, Mayor Joe Rogers vetoed the action that awared MEDC the contract, leaving ecumenic development services unawarded when Mayor Zack Tucker took office on January 1, 2015.

After Rogers vetoed the action taken by the council, Barton recommended the council should have a special called meeting to extend the MEDC contract, which had been in place since 1998, until the city could re-advertise for bids.  The council extended MEDC’s contract through February 28, 2015.

Court documents claim that on January 3, 2015,  Bennie Ryburn III, MEDC president, told board members that the city had voted to allow MEDC to continue forward with the contract indefinitely without the need to ever submit a bid again. The documents also allege that Tucker told the board that the city would clear up the issues in the bidding process to ensure MEDC kept the contract and could get back to work.

Mays also alleges one of the requirements for the professional service contract made it necessary for the contract winner to purchase an industrial park, which is something MEDC already owns.

“When members of the city council questioned if the actions proposed by Mayor Tucker were creating an unfair advantage for MEDC, Mayor Tucker admitted that it did create an advantage unless other bidders already owned an industrial park,” the documents read.

Mays claims the qualifications required for the contract could only be met by MEDC and the city intentionally made it so that MEDC would be the only option for economic development services.

Since MEDC was awarded the contract in the same meeting the requirements were released, Mays claims MEDC was awarded the contract without any consideration of MEDC’s ability to meet those requirements.

The documents state that Mays was not given the opportunity to bid or present information to the council before they awarded the contract to MEDC.

“Since contracting with MEDC in 1998, the city has failed to perform annual evaluations of MEDC and the city has paid all of MEDC’s costs related to the industrial park listed as a requirement for the contract itself while giving MEDC full ownership of this industrial park,” the lawsuit claims.

Mays claims the city violated Arkansas’ competitive bidding statutes and acted in “bad faith” when the city failed to properly solicit bids for professional services after rejecting all initial bids.

“The city openly showed favoritism towards MEDC during the second bidding process by making the requirements impossible for any bidder to meet other than MEDC,” the document reads.

The suit further alleges the city openly showed favoritism to MEDC during the second bidding process by paying for and then giving MEDC the industrial park required to meet the requirements of the second bidding process.

Mays also claims the city showed favoritism towards MEDC by not considering any other bids after the list of requirements was decided upon and released.

The documents indicate Mays is asking for compensatory damages and attorney fees as well as a permanent injunction prohibiting defendants from “ever again engaging in the police and practices complain of herein.”

Tucker said the city has not been served with documents on the suit, and cannot comment on it.

However, he said the city feels positive abou the situation.

The Advance-Monticellonian

Mailing Address:
PO Box 486
Monticello, AR 71657

Street Address:
314 Main Street
Monticello, AR 71655

Phone: 870-367-5325
Fax: 870-367-6612

www.mymonticellonews.net

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