County Executive Chris Collins and the Legislature were recently at odds over a contract awarded to Volland Electric, a company with ties to Collins. The disagreement was because lawmakers were bypassed in the approval process.
County Comptroller Mark Poloncarz and his department looked into three major questions regarding Volland Electric and the $90,000 contract for motor maintenance for sewer districts.
A review determined Volland was in fact the lowest bidder for the contract, and that County Executive Chris Collins did not impose undue influence due to his ownership status with Volland.
However, it was found that proper procedure was not followed in bypassing the legislature for approval. "I believe it was intentional on the part of the purchasing department, but I can't say it was intentional on behalf of the County Executive," says Poloncarz.
Poloncarz says the previous contract for the same work was identified as a purchase order instead of a service contract.
Purchase orders do not need legislature approval.
The review determined this type of electrical work should be termed a service contract, and Poloncarz suggests lawmakers change the language in the County Charter to make it more clear.
Following the dispute, Collins asked Volland to withdraw its bid to eliminate any conflict of interest. His office also issued this statement:
"The Comptroller's investigation and subsequent report reaffirm the County Executive's position that Volland Electric was the lowest responsible bidder and that this Administration acted in full accordance with county law.
As the Comptroller points out, this contract has been historically designated as a Purchase Order, which is not subject to Legislature review. The Collins' Administration welcomes the Legislature to execute its duties under the charter and make any appropriate changes to these contract categories."