MEDIA — Although Johnson Controls won a $335,260 contract for Delaware County's security system, county Councilman Brian Zidek made his opposition clear.

Before Delaware County Council voted on the contract with Johnson Controls to continue providing support for the county's security system, as it has for 25 years, Zidek noted issues he had with the selection. The measure passed 4-1 with Zidek voting against it.

"I would have far preferred a more robust (request for proposals) process that took into consideration desires not to reveal information to folks that might endanger us but still gave us more comfort and a better confidence that we are getting the best system here," he said.

Zidek said he had no doubt that Joseph DeVuono, the county's director of Facilities Management, came "from a place of wanting to do the best but when I look at the process by which this decision was made, I find it wholly unsatisfactory."

DeVuono had approached council early this summer about upgrading the Johnson Controls system. 

He explained that the county began using Johnson Controls about 25 years ago with the Government Center and Courthouse. Since then, the system has grown to encompass services at the Fronfield Building, the Human Services building at 69th Street, the Fifth and Penn streets building in Edddystone, Building 19 at Fair Acres Geriatric Center and the 911 Center.

"We have one person that basically runs the system, knows where all the nuts and bolts are," DeVuono said. "Police actually monitor it and respond to all the calls."

At that time, Zidek had asked him, "How do you know it's the best system? Did you talk to anybody else? Did you find out what our neighboring counties did? Did you look at competitors?"

At the Aug. 21 council meeting, DeVuono said he called two vendors.

"One of the vendors is my locksmith here in the county," he said. "So he sees a little bit more that what other people see."

DeVuono said that vendor said it would cost him $636,000 to install a similar system.

A second unnamed vendor said it would cost $391,685, according to the administrator.

"So, as you can see if we go out there and play open market, it's really going to cost us a lot of money for the same thing," he said. 

In addition, DeVuono said he went on the Internet and found three reviews on Johnson Controls, including ones from Review.Com and that gave top ratings for the company.

He also said that the county stood to save $120,000 by purchasing the system through the Pennsylvania Contract system and being an existing customer.

Zidek said this process wasn't enough.

"I appreciate the work that you did," he said to DeVuono, "(but) the fact that you went to your locksmith, then went on the web doesn't provide me with comfort."

Zidek compared it to the processes that were completed for the pipeline risk assessment, the health study and the compensation review. In those cases, he said, it took "weeks and months honing an RFP to make sure that we get the absolute best thing for Delaware County."

And, that is what, he said he wanted.

"It doesn't take much imagination to understand what could happen if somebody who was disgruntled for whatever reason — because of county council's comments, because of issues with the tax department downstairs, because of issues in the court system — somebody disgruntled could come in and do a lot of harm to a lot of people, so it's vital that our security system is as robust and powerful as it can be," Zidek said.

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