LOCKPORT, N.Y. - The Niagara County Legislature has approved a consultant deal that will study how the county can improve its telephone system at county government buildings. Some lawmakers say that the deal will get rid of the current system, which they say is too old and needs to be replaced.
While others believe that campaign donations tells the real story.
"The technology that's currently there with our phone system is extremely obsolete," said Republican legislator, David Godfrey, who sits on the Administration Committee, which allowed the contract to be voted on the full legislature.
So, Tuesday night, the Republican-led legislature awarded a contract to study this problem.
ECC Technologies, a communications consulting group, proposed $70,000 to do the job. The company is located in Penfield, near Rochester. Cannon Design in Grand Island proposed to do the same work for $74,500. Three other companies had higher bids.
And the legislature has picked Cannon to do the work, costing taxpayers about $4,000 more.
"I would personally believe that the county should always pick what they believe is the right choice to produce the best results," said Godfrey.
The county legislature claims Cannon's consultants are stronger and more experienced. The selection committee said the only place where ECC beat Cannon was the cost.
However, in our interview with Godfrey, he could not give specifics as to why ECC Technologies is not as viable as Cannon Design.
It turns out, Cannon Design has given significant campaign contributions to the Niagara County Republican Committee. Campaign finance numbers show Cannon has donated $4,200 since 2007. And that the highest donation was $1,600 in 2011.
"I would believe that there have been many companies that contribute to all of the different parties at their will and I don't think it should have any bearing on awarding the contract," said Godfrey.
Democratic Minority Leader Dennis Virtuoso, responds to the contract by saying, "with this Republican majority, that's all you have to do is follow the money."
Tuesday night, the three Democrats on the legislature rejected the contract with Cannon.
A representative from ECC Technologies says they disagree and didn't think there was any influence during the contract process.
The county attorney says since this is a professional services contract, the legislature is not legally obligated to go with the lowest bid.