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Date of Issue: May 19, 2010

Cafe challenges UPS-county contract

An attorney representing Cafe on the Beach claims in a letter May 14 to the Manatee County Board of Commissioners that the board relied on inaccurate information in voting to award the Manatee Public Beach concession contract to United Parks Services.

The attorney for Cafe on the Beach, the current MPB restaurant, said the vote should be reconsidered. The county could do so at its meeting at 9 a.m. May 25 at the County Administration Center in downtown Bradenton.

Attorney Stavros Tingirides addressed the four commissioners who voted in favor of UPS — Larry Bustle, Gwendolyn Brown, Donna Hayes and Ron Getman. He stated UPS’s bid was not financially superior to that of Cafe on the Beach’s as was stated by them at their May 11 meeting.

UPS is scheduled to begin operating the concession at Manatee Public Beach July 21.

Tingirides said if the board does not reconsider the decision, there would likely be no more options for Cafe on the Beach.

“A judge probably would not review this,” Tingirides said. “The judge would probably say it’s at the county’s discretion. I think we’re at the end of the line now.”

That is, unless citizens who opposed the decision contact the county commissioners who voted against Cafe on the Beach.

“That’s the only chance,” Tingirides said. “And they say, ‘We’re not happy with you guys, and here’s why. Your people didn’t do their job.’”

In his letter, Tingirides addressed what he concluded were two areas of inaccuracy in the county recommendation: UPS’s annual compensation to the county being deemed superior, and comments by the county recommendations committee that UPS’s proposal had “thoughtful ideas for capital investment,” whereas Cafe on the Beach’s “lacked creativity and vision” and contained “limited capital investment.”

First, the attorney said, UPS’s bid was not financially superior. He pointed out that UPS’s initial bid to the county guaranteed annual payments of $180,000, whereas Cafe on the Beach guaranteed annual payments of $326,400 and $338,400 for a longer contract.

Tingirides wrote, “COB made a very healthy guaranteed compensation offer in its initial proposal, and United proposal only exceeded COB’s because United was allowed to increase their initial guaranteed … 90 percent during the negotiation process.”

He also did not think it fair that UPS was allowed to increase its compensation offer once a recommendation committee selected it to negotiate with the county, and Cafe on the Beach was not given the option to counter UPS’s bid.

“We weren’t even given a chance,” said Tommy Vayias, a manager of Cafe on the Beach.

Second, Tingirides challenged the committee’s comments about capital investment. UPS offered $108,000 in capital improvements and investments for the first year, Tingirides said UPS’s only expected facility improvements pertain to the front of the building and the expenditures were to be about $10,000 for signage and $20,000 for other renovations. He said other investment aspects had no permanent benefit to the county.

In contrast, he said Cafe on the Beach proposed a total of $246,000 for facility improvements for a five-year contract, or 820 percent more than UPS’s aggregate proposal of $30,000. He said the county’s agenda memorandum incorrectly stated Cafe on the Beach offered $250,000 if a 20-year contract was guaranteed, and also incorrectly stated the $108,000 offered by UPS was for capital improvement investment, when in reality it was for capital investments and improvements.

“Therefore,” he wrote, “a large portion of these initial investment funds would actually be expended on (furniture, fixtures and equipment), none of which ultimately provide a permanent benefit to the county.”

Tingirides said it was ironic county commissioners who voted for UPS did not mention how UPS’s proposals for better recycling, educational programs and an ice cream and coffee shop could enhance the concession. It was more about the money offered.

Tingirides said he did not think the inaccuracies were intentional.

“The commissioners approved the recommendation not based on false pretenses,” Tingirides said, “but based on a lot of facts that were skewed.

Read the complete letter in PDF format by following this link: concession cafe attorney letter