Bidding Controversy Hits Wakulla

Wakulla County commissioners are spending the holiday season wrapped up in litigation. The county is being sued for not awarding a road-paving contract to the lowest bidder. All five county commissioners attended Monday’s hearing, the first day of the litigation process that will stretch through the holidays.

A battle is brewing over who should pave these rural roads and it's taking commissioners into the courtroom to re-examine its bidding practices. The issue at hand: Mitchell Brothers Paving Company submitted the lowest bid to county commissioners to take over road paving projects in 2004.

But the contract was awarded to Peavy & Son. A bid protest soon followed and remedial action was taken by the county. It voted to reject all bids and start over. Bateman says commissioners made their decision based on personal preference, which is in direct violation of competitive bidding statutes.

The county contends it was working in the framework of the law, but declined comment because it remains wrapped up in litigation. After hours of rebuttal from both sides, judge Sanders Sauls ordered a temporary injunction on the contract until a final hearing on the merits of this case is conducted.

Both sides hope to schedule that final hearing before the next county commission meeting on January 5. The county cited several reasons in court Monday as to why didn't the county go with the lowest bidder on this project, saying there were budgetary concerns and reservations about the quality of work done by Mitchell Brothers.