The Big Bend Community Development Corporation (Big Bend CDC), one of three groups in line to receive part of a $3 million cultural arts grant, lists an executive director that is also a principal with a city vendor that has ties to City Commissioner Nancy Miller.
Tom Lewis, the executive director of the Big Bend CDC, is also listed as a principal with DPB & Associates.
DPB & Associates, which employs Rich Buss, the brother-in law of City Commissioner Nancy Miller, has been awarded City of Tallahassee contracts through a process that has resulted in bid protests and a city audit that found an appearance of conflict.
Also, a review of state filings with Sunbiz.org shows that DPB & Associates and the Big Bend CDC share the same “Principal Address” of 421 West Georgia, Tallahassee, Fl 32301. (Shown in photo above)
In addition, the filings show that Mr. Lewis is listed as the “Manager” of the business affairs for DPB & Associates and is listed as the registered agent and “Treasurer” for the Big Bend CDC.
A recent City of Tallahassee audit of the Big Bend CDC found that as of September 2016 the organization had failed to make any payments on city of Tallahassee loans totaling $1,275,000. Some of the loans were first originated in 2002. Also, the audit documented instances of mismanagement and nepotism.
Since the audit, it has been reported that the loan balances are now $500,000.
Also, Mr. Lewis is a former employee of the city of Tallahassee who retired as Economic and Community Development Director in 2012.
The Grant Process
On May 25, 2017, the CRA Board directed staff to pursue a competitive process for allocating approximately $3 million in Tourist Development Tax funds that remained after the move to create a performing arts center ended.
Since that meeting, a competitive application process based on nine criteria was developed and adopted by the CRA Board.
On Monday, the Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) will discuss the results of this process which recommended the allocations listed below.
LeMoyne Gallery: Arts for Always, $2,042,000
Big Bend CDC: A Community-Driven Arts, Culture, Heritage & Educational Project, $840,885
John Gilmore Riley House Museum: Soul Voices- Frenchtown Heritage Kiosk Program, $189,000
Total Awards: $3,071,885
The CRA Board and City and County Commissions reserve the right to award the funds to a single or multiple proposals, and to allocate those funds in the manner that best meets the stated program criteria.
Also, the CRA Board, County Commission and City Commission must approve the same recommended allocations.