Beaufort News

Carriage tour bids missing paperwork

Missing paperwork is holding up a decision about which carriage tour companies can work in downtown Beaufort for the next five years, and at least one tour operator is talking about legal action.

Three companies -- Southurn Rose Buggy Tours, Sea Island Carriage Co. and Grace Carriage Co. -- submitted bids, which were opened Thursday. They were due by 5 p.m. Wednesday. Only two carriage companies are allowed to work city streets. Southurn Rose and Sea Island Carriages won the bidding five years ago.

Bids revealed Thursday were:

  • $38,204 from Sea Island Carriage, owned by Walter Gay.
  • $35,850 from Grace Carriage, owned by Evelene Stevenson.
  • $27,656 from Southurn Rose, owned by Peter and Rose White.
  • Southurn Rose was the only company that submitted all the required paperwork. Stevenson and Gay said they did not see the requirement to include a signed, notarized statement that the bid information was correct.

    "I think if they didn't have the affidavit, they should be thrown out," Rose White said.

    City manager Scott Dadson will make the final decision on awarding bids, according to the bid advertisement. After discovering the paperwork problem Thursday, Dadson said he would have to consult the city solicitor on how to proceed.

    The city set a minimum bid of $25,000 per year, up from $10,000 five years ago.

    Dadson recommended the minimum bid be $35,000 to cover the cost of regulating the tours, citing an ongoing feud between the two current carriage companies that has been expensive for the city. Council members, however, approved the $25,000 minimum.

    A Beaufort police officer who is the tour vehicle coordinator has to respond each time Southurn Rose or Sea Island Carriage accuses each other of violating a city ordinance.

    Stevenson operates walking and bus tours downtown through the Spirit of Old Beaufort Tour Center.

    Related content:In wake of carriage tour feud, council ups minimum license bid by $15K, Sept. 27, 2011

    Stricter rules pushed for tour operators, Sept. 20, 2011