In a second round of bidding, four entities have stepped forward as applicants to be the new administrator of the Tourist Development Council.
The requests for qualifications were opened at Tuesday’s county commission meeting, nearly seven weeks after the first round of bids yielded only two applicants, below the required three. Commissioners decided in early July to reopen the bidding to replace Curt Blair as the executive director of the TDC.
Both of the two initial bidders, Laura Graham, of Forgotten Coast Management Services Inc., and Debra Davis, of Debra Davis and Associates of Franklin County, once again submitted applications.
In addition, Forgotten Coast Creative LLC, managed by Cutler Edwards, of Apalachicola, and the Apalachicola Bay Chamber of Commerce, under President Donna Duncan and Director John Solomon, submitted an RFQ package.
County Coordinator Michael Morón suggested to commissioners the TDC be tasked with ranking all four, rather than just three, and then send on their list to the commissioners to conduct interviews and make the final selection.
“Why they got to be ranked?” asked Commissioner Noah Lockley. “Why don’t we just interview and pick one?”
County Attorney Michael Shuler noted that the upcoming selection process would mark only the TDC’s third hiring of an executive director since the two-cent bed tax was instituted in 2004. He said it was important to have the applications carefully reviewed for compliance with the TDC’s requirements.
“I feel like it would be a disservice to this board if you don’t have the TDC at least look at them,” said Commissioner Cheryl Sanders, who also serves as TDC chair.
“They need to look over the contract and make sure it (the applications) meet what’s supposed to be in there,” she said. “The TDC board needs to look and make sure they’ve complied.”
Sanders’ motion, to send all four applications to the TDC to make sure they’ve met all the qualifications, but not to rank them, passed unanimously. The county commission hopes to make a decision in September, in advance of the start of the fiscal year on Oct. 1.
The TDC will meet at 2 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 30 at the Eastpoint Visitor Center to review the RFQs.
At the Aug. 7 regular meeting, county commissioners approved the selection of its four vendors, based on an earlier RFQ process.
Internet and Web Services will once again be handled by 2K Web Group, which was represented in the TDC interviews by Tana Kendrick, while print media will again be in the hands of Bay Media, which was represented by Cindy Clark.
Local Radio will handled by Oyster Radio, which is owned and operated by Michael Allen, while Local TV Air Time and Production will be under the auspices of Forgotten Coast TV, which was represented by Royce Rolstad.
Details on the contracts are now being worked out by the TDC.
The commissioners also accepted the resignation of TDC board member Chester Reese, who served as the designee from the Carrabelle Chamber of Commerce. They approved the chamber’s recommendation of Rob Powis to replace Reese.
In his report, Blair told commissioners that TDC bed tax receipts are running about 5.4 percent ahead of last year, largely due to three excellent spring months.
In March, collections were at about $112,000, 32 percent ahead of the $84,600 posted the year prior.
In April, the collections were at about $103,400, 15 percent of the $90,000 collected the year before. And in May, receipts were at a little more than $140,000, nearly 27 percent ahead of the May 2017 total of about $110,500.
Last year, was the TDC’s best year on record, with about $1.25 million in total collections.