Binghamton, NY (WBNG Binghamton) The Broome County Legislature approved a multimillion dollar expansion for the Broome County Jail in December. But the contractor responsible for the renovations is still in question.
The legislature decided to hold the resolution that would have given the job to LaBella Associates, DPC. Instead, they will open it up for other businesses to apply for the job.
The $5.7 million expansion aims to increase the number of beds in the medical unit from 11 to 16, and separate the inmates by gender.
The project will also transform the gymnasium into a dorm that will fit nearly 50 inmates.
The sheriff's office said this will help solve some overcrowding and meet state mandates.
But Broome legislators have fallen under scrutiny over whether they were legally allowed to avoid the proper bidding process.
Legislature Chairman and Republican Jerry Marinich said there are special circumstances when such action is permitted.
"We didn't want to have the jail face the burden of being de-certified in the medical unit, or de-certified as a jail. But if that happens, we would have to board out prisoners, and I didn't want that financial burden on the taxpayers," Marinich said.
"One of the things that we wanted to make sure is that this vendor that they recommended here is the most qualified," said Republican Legislator Daniel J. Reynolds.
LaBella Associates built the jail and have been chosen for all necessary repairs.
Broome County Sheriff David Harder said the company doing the work isn't his concern, so long as it gets done. He just makes the request to the legislature.
Harder hopes to have the project complete in two years rather than the originally projected three.
The legislature will revisit the issue at their next meeting in February.