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Erie County could face lawsuit over bidding practices

Jun 29, 2016

Erie County Finance and Management Committee heard from both sides of the rigged bid controversy

It’s all over the county approving a bid to hire Scrufari to build the $30 million Stem Center at Erie Community College-North in Williamsville.

One of the competing contractors, LPCiminelli found some inappropriate bidding practices happening. 7 Eyewitness News learned last week that Scrufari did not submit what’s called a Minority and Women Business Enterprise Report, needed to be qualified for a bid. This document is required by law. It ensures that women and minority subcontractors get equal work opportunities.

“The bid for Scrufari should be rejected and the contract should be awarded to LPCiminelli as the next lowest bidder,” Attorney for LPCiminelli, Guy Agostinelli said.

This is not the first time contractors have won bids with Erie County without following all the rules. According to county leaders, 72% percent of contractors who submit bids to the county never complete this form or follow through on the subcontractors listed once winning the bid. Erie County leaders are pointing the finger at the Erie County Department of Public Works.

“At this point, we’ve told the county executive we are not going to reward a bid that have these type of issues,” Erie County Majority Leader Joe Lorigo said.

“A big component of my constituents who are in the construction business, they are not being utilized and this form tells me from their prospective, their utilization is not that important to the county,” Erie County Legislator Betty Jean Grant said.

Lawmakers are now left to figure out what’s next. It’s almost certain they will face a lawsuit if they give the contract to Scrufari or LPCiminelli.

“We might be looking at a lawsuit. It just depends on the time frame and who’s bringing that lawsuit,” Lorigo said.

However, a lot of uncertainty remains on when or if the ECC Stem Center will ever get built. The center is still scheduled to open January 2018.

Story originally aired on WKBW-TV, June 29, 2016