BLOOMINGDALE - The front steps at the St. Armand Town Hall were certainly in desperate need of repair. Decades of salt, water and freezing temperatures had turned what was once a grand staircase into a cracked and shattered lawsuit waiting to happen, and the town board hired a contractor to undertake the expensive repair.
But one thing the St. Armand town board didn't do was put the $50,000-plus project out to bid and now some citizens and local contractors are crying foul.
Sandy Hayes is a local developer and resident of St. Armand. "A lot of people aren't happy with the fact that no bids were requested for this job," Hayes said. "There is a call for an audit of the town."
According to New York State General Municipal Law section 102, any public project that will exceed $20,000 must be put out to bid.
The law stipulates that a town may only bypass the bid process if there is a clear risk of serious injury or death.
The St. Armand Town Board declared the cracked and sagging staircase an emergency late last summer and hired the Bloomingdale firm Duffy Builders and General Contractors to do the job.
According to St. Armand Supervisor Joyce Morency, $32,000 has already been spent on the project and the final cost is expected to exceed $53,000.
"We have been trying to find people interested in doing the job for over a year and no one was interested," Morency said. "It became a real safety issue and we declared an emergency."
But Hayes questioned how hard the town actually looked for bidders.
"I know of several contractors who said they wanted that bid," Hayes said.
For her part, Morency believes they did the right thing and even the resulting outcry may have benefits.
"We have been trying to get the state to come do an audit for us for years," she said. "Maybe this will finally get them here."