Update: I followed up with county attorney, Bob Shillinger, regarding this matter. We’ll see where that goes…
The Hickory House property has been a source of scandal ever since the BOCC paid an exorbitant price for it back in 2006. After that, the property sat vacant for many years as the hapless nincompoops on the BOCC dithered around trying to figure out what to do with it. Here’s a history of all their attempts to sell it from Demandstar.com. See below.
In most cases, county staff followed the letter of the law in advertising the sale of the property. But not in all cases. (More on that later.) But in order to get the best offer, wouldn’t it have made sense to advertise in a newspaper with a larger audience in addition to the local papers? Say the Miami Herald or the Sun Sentinal? The county didn’t do that. They advertised in local papers every single time, and got unsatisfactory offers every single time. They eventually accepted a low ball offer from Pritam Singh. And the taxpayers lost over $1 million on the deal.
According to Florida law…
No sale of any real property shall be made unless notice thereof is published once a week for at least 2 weeks in some newspaper of general circulation published in the county, calling for bids for the purchase of the real estate so advertised to be sold. In the case of a sale, the bid of the highest bidder complying with the terms and conditions set forth in such notice shall be accepted, unless the board of county commissioners rejects all bids because they are too low. The board of county commissioners may require a deposit to be made or a surety bond to be given, in such form or in such amount as the board determines, with each bid submitted.
Well, it looks like the Hickory House was not properly advertised on the last go-round. Here’s a print out of the bid detail from Demandstar and a print out of the legal ad. Note that there was one ad in each of the three local papers. The law requires that the ad be published once a week for at least two weeks at a minimum. I certainly wouldn’t expect county staff to go above and beyond to get the best deal for the taxpayers, but apparently they didn’t even meet minimum legal requirements.
Ah well…it’s only taxpayer money. Fiddle-dee-dee.