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March 4, 2014

County data network quagmire continues

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal —

Niagara County legislators are still undecided on which company should provide the data equipment for its new countywide network.

A resolution awarding the bid to Advance 2000 was pulled by sponsoring Legislator Randy R. Bradt, R-North Tonawanda at a meeting Tuesday night. The Amherst-based company's bid was approved in both the Legislature's Public Works and Administration committees last week.

The resolution listed the bid at $715,091, but that's the number Bradt came up with, by taking Advance’s base bid and adding in costs for bonding, training, adjusted maintenance costs and routers. That figure did not appear on any other bid documents.

Advance originally was the low bidder, but lost the award when county officials and two consultants decided Advance left out some items in their bid and had equipment that didn’t meet specifications. The county’s information technology department and consultants from ECC Technology and Cannon Design declared that IPLogic, another Amherst company, was the real low bidder.

But, then came Bradt's resolution. He pulled it when Chris Fox of IPLogic told the Legislature Tuesday he sent the county a letter with a new, lower quote that met the bidding process standards.

"We need time to look at it," Bradt said. "The process has worked and the taxpayer will benefit."

So, the matter was sent back to the Legislature's Administration committee, which meets at 6 p.m. Monday in the legislative chambers.

Minority Leader Dennis Virtuoso, D-Niagara Falls, bashed the way the bidding process has been handled. The whole thing should be thrown out and started over again, he said.

"I've never seen this before. This whole process stinks, it smells to high heaven," Virtuoso said. "It smells of corruption, I'll say it, corruption."

During the Legislature meeting's public forum, Carl Carbone of Advance 2000 questioned whether or not IPLogic could send a quote this late in the process. He said Advance wasn't just the lowest, responsible bidder but the best company for the job.

"We strongly feel our solution is best," Carbone said.

Contact reporter Joe Olenick at 439-9222, ext. 6241 or follow him on Twitter @joeolenick.

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