Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

Real news for working families.

Letter to the Editor

Lake City purchasing policies • The City Manager responds


Sounds like Lake City has fishy deal

In the tough economic times, you would think the City of Lake City would at least attempt to make their large purchases in the local area. But that is not the case. I was informed that the city made a purchase of new vehicles in Green Cove Springs and did not even give the local dealers a chance to bid on the contract. I also was told that policy is business as usual with the City of Lake City.

Those actions are completely shameful. Sounds to me like someone might have a fishy deal working with someone at the Green Cove Springs dealer. The person or persons responsible for those actions should be, at the minimum, suspended without pay for 90 days so they can experience what their actions cause some people in our local area when local money is spent outside our area.

At least Columbia County does attempt to buy local when the item or services to be purchased are available in our local area.

This is one time the city should take lessons from the county.


We adhere to the highest ethical standards

I appreciate your concerns and it amazes me how citizens will take the "word on the street" and run with it. In my many years of government this is not unusual and I am glad to have this opportunity to respond for the City. Sometimes the word on the street has merit, in this case it does not.

First the facts: The City did not purchase any cars from Green Cove Springs. A few months ago the city purchased seven police cars through a State Bid contract of the Jacksonville/Duval Sheriff's Department. These 7 cars were already retrofitted as police vehicles and are unavailable off the lot. The Green Cove Springs Dealership was "only" the distribution point.

The City's purchasing procedures comply with all state standards and policies adopted by the City Council. We adhere to the highest ethical standards and all purchasing transactions are transparent. We also subscribe to Demandstar which insures all bids and purchases are made transparent to the maximum amount of people, business and governmental agencies, always insuring the best prices for the tax payers of Lake City, the people that pay the bills.

Mr. Buchner, our Purchasing Director, Debbie Garbett has twenty three years of experience with 17 directly in public purchasing. She has three certifications with the state of Florida and one national certification issued through UPPCC (Universal Public Purchasing Certification Council) and is also currently studying for her 2nd national certification.

Ms Garbett's phone number is 386-719-5818. She would be happy to make an appointment with you to share the City's purchasing policies.

I think you will be pleasantly surprised and look forward to your findings on these pages.

Wendell Johnson
City Manager