The Jasper County Sheriffs office is trying to shave its budget by buying used cars as its done in the past, but the County Commission is putting the kabosh on its plans to purchase them from the highway patrol without seeking bids from others.
KOAM and Fox-14's Lisa Olliges looks at what's fueling the fire of the debate.
Lt. Nathan McDonald shows off the trunk of a former highway patrol car, its kevlar lining and fire suppression system are unique to patrol vehicles. . The Sheriffs office wants to buy 4 even newer versions of the Crown Victoria directly from the patrol but the County Commission is saying no.
"Statues says they can sell to the public or to us but there's no statute that says we can buy from them without the bid system. My take on it is we need to bid everything we buy that's over 45 hundred dollars." said the presiding commissioner John Bartosh
But the commission has made its own purchases of state surplus vehicles without bidding. Two trucks in 2009 and another two vehicles in 2010. All costing more than 45 hundred dollars.
This truck used by the jasper county highway department cost 12 thousand 900 dollars.
"I'm not so sure, I don't think anbodys gonna spank anybody for it but I'm not so sure that that's legal." Bartosh remarked. "Our legal advisers Dean Dankleson says no its not legal to do that."
If we have to bid for state surplus vehicles, why shouldn't they have to bid for state surplus vehicles? I asked them directly. I said, so you guys are gonna have to bid your vehicles?they said, "No we're not!"
Commissioner Jim Honey wouldn't talk to us on camera but he did stand up at the commission meeting, according to minutes, saying he disagreed with other commissioners and believes it was okay to purchase state surplus property without using a bid system.
We contacted the State Office of Administration and officials there told us there are several state statutes that allow one government agency to purchase from another without the bid process.
"Its just common practice, everyone says I need a car, I need it quick, I can just go pick one up." McDonald stated.
McDonald says the Sheriff will seek bids for the cars but the bidding process can take three weeks for soliciting and another ten days once they're submitted. By then other agencies could have purchased the patrol cars.
Commissioner Jim Honey says from now on, the commission will seek bids before buying state surplus as well.
County prosecutor Dean Dankelson says, however, he recognizes statutes allowing sales between government agencies of surplus property and says its up to the commission to determine what it believes to be surplus.
He says the laws on bidding are designed to give all who sell vehicles an opportunity to sell to the county.