Every year the Hernando County Tax collector is required to publish the delinquent tax rolls in a newspaper that qualifies to carry legal notices. In 2021, the Hernando Sun newspaper had the winning bid for the tax rolls. The bid was for the printing of 2000 tax rolls per week for 3 consecutive weeks and inserting them into a newspaper that has earned the right to carry public notices.
Public notice allows the public to be informed of important government and judicial actions. It is done through print newspapers currently to allow people who are not active online to also receive notice. (Notices are published both in print online.) Therefore delivering twice the amount of notices would lead to a more informed public. If the quantity of public notices does not matter, the price to print a single notice would be significantly cheaper, but only a few members of the public would be informed by that single notice.
This year the tax collector did not specify the number to print and when the Hernando Sun asked about the quantity to print, the Tax Collector’s office suggested the Hernando Sun bid our press run which was twice the number that the Tampa Bay Times (Times) bid. This indicates that most likely the Hernando Sun’s press run for Hernando County distribution is twice that of the Times.
The Hernando Sun reached out to the tax collector’s office and was told to look at the law since it had changed significantly to determine the number of tax deed notices to print. The laws which cover delinquent tax rolls do not specify the number of delinquent tax rolls to print. The Hernando Sun contacted Sam Morley, Florida Press Association legal counsel, who was involved in the development of the new portions of the legal notice law. He was not aware of any changes relating to delinquent tax notices.
The Hernando Sun’s bid for printing twice the number of delinquent tax deed notices was 10.5% more than the Times’ bid. The Hernando Tax Collector compared the bids on price only and awarded the delinquent tax deeds to the Tampa Bay Times.
When asked by the Hernando Sun how many tax rolls the Times was printing in their winning bid the Tax Collector’s office had to ask the Times to find out that they were printing 2000 per press run (or per week). This bid was half of what the Hernando Sun bid.
The issue with not printing enough delinquent tax notices for a full press run is that not all the newspapers will carry the notices. If someone is looking for the notices they not only have to find the newspaper but a newspaper which is carrying the tax notices. This is why the Hernando Sun this year quoted the price for a full press run.
The Hernando Sun is Hernando County’s local woman-owned newspaper. It has a larger number of subscribers in Hernando County and because of this provides more notice to the Hernando County community. The Hernando County Tax Collector’s office by not taking into account the quantity of the delinquent tax notices printed is effectively punishing the Hernando Sun for having a larger subscriber base in Hernando County. It is unfair to request bids without specifying a quantity or taking into account the quantity bid.
The Hernando Sun protested this bid award and was informed that we lost the award because we bid printing too many delinquent tax notices. The Hernando Sun was not provided a number of notices to print and even requested that the Tax Collector’s Office provide a number of notices to print. The Hernando Sun was required to bid without knowing the quantity desired and then was told they lost the bid because their price was too high because they bid too many public notices.