RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – We're investigating whether or not the city of Richmond followed the law when it chose a contractor to build a new jail. The city auditor examined the bidding process in the $116 million project.
His answer as to if Mayor Dwight Jones' administration treated all proposals fairly is almost. That "almost" could put the future of a new city jail in jeopardy.
The Jones administration has tapped Tompkins and Ballard as its choice to build a new justice center to replace the 47-year-old jail on Oliver Hill Way.
Auditor Umesh Dalal found four areas in question with the choice but explained that didn't mean the administration had not complied with the law. Dalal noted the wording of the laws is complicated and recommended that council require a specialized legal opinion to be sure.
At the City Council meeting Monday night, Chief Administrative Officer Byron Marshall maintained the city went with the guidance of its attorney and brought in the key players to answer any questions. And the questions from council members kept coming.
President Kathy Graziano told me she believes 99% of the concerns were addressed. The mayor has asked for a vote by the summer's last council meeting, which is next Monday. Graziano said she thinks there's a good chance it will pass then.
Some members, however, are feeling rushed.
"At the end of the day, we have to preserve the process we go through to award contracts," said Councilman Bruce Tyler. "If we don't do that than we lose the faith of the community."
Marshal thinks not voting soon, could cause future problems.
"We're also concerned about how people view doing business with the city of Richmond," he explained. "We don't want people to continually think there's some issue that has to be hashed out."
We have learned the price of the project is guaranteed through September 15th, after that it could change.
Monday is council's last meeting before a summer break. If members don't vote then, approval will most likely be delayed until mid-September.