LOCKPORT – The Niagara County Legislature remains unable to decide which company should receive a contract for a new data and telephone network for county offices, needed for a planned new phone system.
Tuesday, Legislator Randy R. Bradt, R-North Tonawanda, withdrew his resolution to award the contract to Advance 2000 of Amherst, after a competitor, IPLogic, submitted another bid Monday.
“At a quick glance, it does seem to be a lower bid,” Bradt said of IPLogic’s new offer. “They certainly have the right to submit another quote … This process is working. We are saving the taxpayers money with the lowest responsible price. The taxpayers will benefit.”
“I’m asking that we scrap this whole process and start over,” said Minority Leader Dennis F. Virtuoso, D-Niagara Falls.
The original low bid came from Advance 2000, a dealer in Alcatel-Lucent products. However, after review from the county’s technology staff and consultants, the bids were revised and IPLogic of Amherst, a Cisco Systems dealer, was declared the low bidder.
After contact with Advance 2000, Bradt introduced a resolution to hire that firm for $715,000.
Actually, Advance 2000 had bid $605,000 at first, but its bid has been deemed to be $660,000, or $715,000, or more than $800,000, depending on who is calculating the figures regarding additions and options.
“This process stinks,” Virtuoso said. “I called the state Comptroller’s Office and they were laughing about it. They can’t wait to come in.”
Legislature Chairman William L. Ross, C-Wheatfield, invited Virtuoso to make that argument when the battle resumes at Monday’s Administration Committee meeting.
Chris Fox, vice president of sales for IPLogic, said his company’s bid complied with the original request for proposals. “We believe that our bid is the lowest-cost bid that is fully responsive to the technical requirements set forth in the RFP,” Fox told the legislators. “We believe the Legislature has a duty to accept our bid unless there’s a compelling reason not to do so.”
“I question whether the county can entertain a new bid after the bids have been opened,” said Carl Carbone, a sales representative for Advance 2000,
He said the original RFP was “unfair,” because it was written to favor Cisco products. “No matter what you buy, they all work,” Carbone said.
Also late Tuesday, the Legislature voted along party lines to declare nearly 67 acres of county-owned land on Davison Road in Lockport as surplus property, clearing the way for another effort to sell it. The four Democrats voted no.
At least three potential sales have fallen through in the last decade. The map excludes from the sale about 25 acres of land that includes some athletic fields used by the An-Jo Baseball League and the Lockport Rugby Club, and also an old paupers’ cemetery.
The front portion of the land includes the former county infirmary, known as the Switzer Building when it was headquarters of the county Social Services Department until 2003. Would-be buyers would be given five years to redevelop the front parcel before being allowed to take title to the grassy land to the east.
William Rutland, president of the county’s blue-collar union, asserted during the public comment period that the land is park land and can’t be sold without permission of the State Legislature. County Attorney Claude A. Joerg said he’d never heard that.
Rutland also said there had been talk of building housing for sex offenders there. Legislators denied that.
“That’s certainly something that’s not going to happen,” said Majority Leader Richard E. Updegrove, R-Lockport. He also said a deed restriction would bar low-income housing.
Legislator Michael A. Hill, R-Hartland, said sex offender housing on Davison would violate the state buffer zone law because of the proximity of the An-Jo fields.