A Drew County company that submitted a bid in 2014 to provide economic development services for the city of Monticello has filed a civil suit against the city claiming the city violated state law and acted in bad faith when it did not award the company the contract.
Defendants listed in the lawsuit are the city, the mayor and members of the Monticello City Council.
P.F. Mays & Associates, LLC, and the Monticello Economic Development Commission (MEDC) both submitted bids for the services.
Mays, according to the lawsuit filed in Drew County Circuit Court on Thursday, requested a bid package after the city advertised for bids. She said she was told that there was no bid package but should submit her bid. Both she and the MEDC submitted sealed bids.
The bids were opened on Dec. 21, 2014. The MEDC (which has provided economic development services for the city since 1998) submitted a bid of $280,617. Mays submitted a bid of $264,000.
Both Mays and the MEDC made oral presentations to the City Council’s Budget Committee. The committee passed the issue back to the city council with no recommendation. The Monticello City Council on December 18, 2014 voted 7-1 to award the contract to the MEDC.
At a city council meeting on Dec. 29, 2014, the city attorney “suggested that the city again advertise the bids for professional services including requirements that could only be met by the MEDC in order to ensure the contract could be awarded to the MEDC,” Mays’ lawsuit reads. The council also voted 6-2 to “throw out” May’s bid, according to the lawsuit.
Former Mayor Joe Rogers vetoed the city council’s Dec. 18 and Dec. 29 actions.
On January 7, 2015, the city council voted 6-2 to reject both bids for economic development services, declare economic development services a “professional service”, authorize the mayor to advertise a Request for Qualifications, and extend until February 28 the current economic development contract with the MEDC.
One of the requirements in the professional services contract required the winner of contract to purchase an industrial park which the MEDC already possessed, the lawsuit reads.
On January 27, 2015, the city council voted 5-2 to award the professional services contract to the MEDC.
Mays said she was not given the opportunity to bid or present information for the Request for Qualifications prior to the city awarding the contract. She alleges in her lawsuit that the city violated Arkansas competitive bidding statutes and showed favoritism in the awarding of the contract.
Mays is asking for compensatory damages, a declaratory judgment that the city violated the state’s competitive bidding statutes, an injunction prohibiting the city from engaging in similar policies and practices described in her lawsuit. She is asking for a jury trial, pre and post judgment interest, attorney fees and costs.
Mays is represented by the Wallace, Martin, Duke & Russell, PLLC of Little Rock.