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L.A. County hires firm to guard courthouses, facilities

October 15, 2013|By Seema Mehta

Los Angeles County leaders unanimously approved a $16.5-million agreement on Tuesday to hire a firm to provide security at 44 courthouses and two other county facilities when sheriff’s deputies are unavailable.

The agreement approved by the county Board of Supervisors with RMI International is for one year, with options of extending it for an additional four and a half years.

“The [Sheriff’s] Department does not currently have sufficient numbers of officers and assistants to fill all the security positions, nor to maintain a pool of substitute security assistants,” according to a staff report signed by Sheriff Lee Baca. “The services in this Agreement specifically include as-needed, short-term, day and after-hours security guard services to backfill for County security guards who are unavailable due to absences, and to provide after-hour coverage when County security personnel are not available.”

A representative of a competing security firm testified at the board’s meeting that the contract award was inflated because of the delay in the implementation of a provision of the Affordable Care Act, the federal healthcare overhaul law.

Jeff Winter, an area vice president with Securitas Security Services, a losing bidder, said that when the contract went out for bids, the federal act required employers with 50 or more employees to begin providing them insurance in January of 2014 or pay a penalty, and the proposals included such costs. Now that the requirement has been delayed a year, he said it should reduce the contract amount by nearly $200,000.

If the provision is further delayed or repealed, Winter said, the county could end up paying more than $1 million in unnecessary costs over the lifetime of the contract. He asked the board to withdraw the contract award, and to request new proposals that included the Affordable Care Act costs separated out as a separate line item.

Board members did not respond to the concerns raised and voted unanimously to approve the contract.

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Twitter: @LATSeema

seema.mehta@latimes.com

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