City Attorney, Staff: Sail Honeymoon Concession Should Go to Bid
After months of delays, Dunedin's city attorney and staff experts are recommending that elected officials allow the Causeway concession services open to competitive bidding at Thursday's public meeting at City Hall.
Sail Honeymoon's expiring contract is causing Chuck Ankney to lose sleep.
Ankney, the city's purchasing manager, is worried that repeated delays in the bidding process that allow the kayak rental business to operate on the Dunedin Causeway could potentially push the agreement past its July expiration, a violation in the city's purchasing policy.
"I was thinking about this issue last night when I was trying to go to sleep….not a preferred way to go to sleep," Ankney wrote in a Feb. 21 email to City Attorney Tom Trask.
Some Dunedin officials have pushed for a loophole that would allow Sail Honeymoon to skip the bidding process altogether, an exception given to no other business in the city.
Leaders are reviewing the policy as it pertains to the Causeway concession agreement at Thursday's public meeting at City Hall.
The policy requires that all businesses go through a competitive bidding process, also known as a request for proposal (RFP) process, to use public land for private profit.
"An RFP process will ensure that the City obtains the best services for residents. This process helps to ensure fairness to both the city and the contractor community, because all contractors would have an equal opportunity to submit a proposal," City Manager Rob DiSpirito outlined in city documents.
DiSpirito pointed to several private businesses operating on city land that were required to go through the RFP process, including Dunedin Stirling Links, the Dunedin Green Market and the Dunedin Fish Market.
Glen Steinke, owner of Sail Honeymoon, has run his private business on the city-owned Dunedin Causeway on mostly one-year agreements for the past 20 years.
His most recent three-year, $1,000-a-month agreement, which was unanimously agreed-upon in 2010, expires on July 31. It requires the bidding process open in January, but elected officials have stalled the processs for various reasons through the last few consecutive meetings. His contract had to be amended slightly in January to account for delays.
DiSpirito continues, "this process allows the City to award a contract based on the proposal that is in the City's best interest. Doing so helps to reduce subjectivity in the contracting process."
Ankney compared Dunedin's policy with 11 other local city and county policies, and found "no city exempts any type of revenue contract from the process."
Trask "strongly endorses" the staff's recommendation to move forward on the bidding process, as do Ankney and Karen Feeney, the city's finance director, DiSpirito says.
Ankney shared the concerns in his email to Trask. He expressed worries over legal issues and how to squeeze the entire RFP process into a now shortened time.
He wanted to exhaust all potential solutions.
"Certainly, the extension of an existing agreement for successive periods of time to avoid the requirement would be a violation of the intent of the policy," Ankney wrote in his Feb. 21 email to Trask, "but would a three month (or so) extension of an agreement in place prior to the policy be a violation of the intent of the policy?"
He felt a little better once his concerns were expressed.
"Hopefully, now I will be able to sleep better tonight," he wrote.
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The public can attend Thursday's meeting at Dunedin City Hall or watch the meeting live beginning at 6:30 p.m. on Dunedin TV on Channel 615 for Bright House customers or Channel 15 for Knology and Verizon customers.