City takes $5,000 free service for the award of $1,500 design contract

The City of St. Augustine announced last week that they are seeking “public input on a logo design recommendation for Fish Island Preserve”.  The announcement invites interested persons “to submit design ideas, concepts, color suggestions, thematic recommendations, or design examples before 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday, January 11, 2022”, indicating that there is still time to participate in this public process.

According to the announcement, “all public input will be compiled and submitted to Hybrid Designs”, referring to a graphic design consultant hired by the city.  Historic City News requested copies of the relevant documents between the City and Hybrid Design president and founder Kerry Tustin. 

In an un-dated design proposal offered to the City of St Augustine by the local advertising, marketing, graphic design, digital media, and public relations firm, Historic City News discovered irregularities in the management of the purchasing process.

First, the terms of the proposal provided that only half of the $1,500 bid was to be paid on acceptance of the contract agreement. The remaining balance is not due until “the delivery of all completed items” which includes the finished Fish Island Preserve logo design, including three (3) initial concepts.

Instead, a full payment of $1,500 was ordered by Reuben Franklin on August 23, 2021, despite clear documentation that Hybrid Design has yet to complete the work.

“A staff-appointed review committee will be tasked with evaluating the logos and the public is encouraged to attend and offer feedback in person,” the announcement reported.  “If you are unable to attend the public meeting, input can be provided via email.”

Further at issue are $5,000 in charges for the design of eight 36″ x 24″ signs and an additional, large format sign referencing common birds, wading birds, pre-historic resources, historic resources, Jesse Fish and the plantation, invasive plants, maritime hammock, and the salt marsh.

The itemized in-kind design fee of $5,000 is detailed in the Hybrid Design proposal.  However, they are not referenced on the payment voucher, so, it is not clear what part the work played in winning the bid, or if they will be traded for some other benefit later.  The estimate does not include photography, printing fees, mailing requirements, rush charges, delivery fees, specification changes beyond the scope of the proposal, or tax.


Hybrid Design was founded by Tustin in 2002.  Her company has served local, regional, and national markets for nearly two decades.  She also manages a large inventory of billboard and transit advertising.