The Livingston Parish Council may seek a legal opinion on whether two contracts for pharmacy and medical services at the parish jail violated public bid laws.
Councilman Jim Norred plans to raise the issue at Thursday’s council meeting.
Norred said he is concerned that the contracts, which Parish President Layton Ricks signed, were not brought before the council for approval or put out for public bid.
Ricks said both contracts were renewals of existing agreements, so council approval and public bids were not required.
Parish legal adviser Christopher Moody said the medical services contract was one for professional services and, as such, does not have to be put out for bid, although it may have been bid out previously.
The pharmacy contract, which involves both services and supplies, is a different matter and will need further review, he said.
The contract ended four months before the extension was signed. Whether that lapse triggers the need for a request for proposals is the issue, Moody said.
“I’m not sure there is a clear answer to that question,” Moody said.
Ricks said he spoke with the state Attorney General’s Office about the matter, and “they didn’t feel like there was any violation.”
“But if the council gets an opinion saying that we need to put it out for bid, we would do that too,” he said.
Rebidding the contract could wind up costing the parish more money, Ricks said. The pharmacy company had agreed to honor the original contract pricing, despite the lapse before renewal. Putting the contract out for bid would subject the parish to current market prices, which may be higher, he said.
Moody said any contract made in violation of public bid laws would be void.
“I suppose that could expose the parish to a claim from the contractor,” he said. “It gets sticky.”
Norred said the issues could have been addressed from the beginning if the contracts had been brought to the council.
“The contracts were signed last November and December, and (Ricks) never once mentioned to us that he was going to do that,” Norred said. “I’m not real happy about that. He should have let us know.”