Posted on April 9, 2014
An investigation by Tallahassee Reports indicates that the store front for the Gold Buyers of Tallahassee, located at 2784-1 Capital Circle NE, was used as the address for another company, Southland Specialties of Tennessee, Inc. to qualify as a local vendor during the City of Tallahassee procurement process.
According to state records, the registered agent and all officers of Southland Specialties of Tennessee reside in St. Augustine, Florida.
Tallahassee Reports recently learned that the City Commission voted to award a two year contract to Southland Specialties of Tennessee for the mowing of City street medians and rights-of-way.
A local small business owner called Tallahassee Reports and complained about an out-of-town vendor mowing City median’s on Southeast Capital Circle.
Research by Tallahassee Reports discovered that on February 13, 2013 the City Commission voted 5-0 to award a 2-year contract to Southland Specialties, Inc. of Tennessee, located in St. Augustine, Florida.
The amount of the contract was not to exceed $566,229.95 in FY2013 for the mowing of City street medians and rights-of-way.
The bid tabulation is shown below.
The bid tabulation shows that two companies, Turf Pro and Antonio Wallace had lower bids than the winning bid of Southland Specialities, Inc. However, city staff told Tallahassee Reports that the lower bids were disqualified because of a lack of experience and not possessing critical FDOT certification.
The bid tabulation also shows that Southland Specialties of Tennessee received local vendor status.
Tallahassee Reports verified that the listed Manager and registered agent of the Gold Buyers of Tallahassee, LLC is Joshua Campbell with an address in St. Augustine, Florida.
When Tallahassee Reports called the Southland Specialties’ office in St. Augustine to inquire about the office location in Tallahasse, they referred us to Joshua Campbell who said the office address for Southland Specialities of Tennessee was 2784-1 Capital Circle NE.
A visit to the address revealed the presence of the Gold Buyers store front and no sign of any lawn mowing equipment.
While the local vendor preference was not the deciding factor in awarding the bid, legal analysts tell Tallahassee Reports that falsifying the local vendor affidavit could result in severe penalties.
However, the bigger concern could be the business tax certificate.
City staff told Tallahassee Reports that the company registered with the City for a business tax certificate. The business tax certificate requires information about the office location. The form clearly states that “Under penalties of perjury, I declare that I have read the foregoing document and that the facts stated in it are true. A person who knowingly makes a false declaration is guilty of crime of perjury by false written declaration, which is a felony of the third degree pursuant to the Florida Statutes, Section 92.525.”
Tallahassee Reports will continue to investigate this situation.