Lee County employees return surplus property - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Lee County employees return surplus property

May 24, 2006 

Lee County-- Lee County violated state law with the sale of surplus property. Old equipment and vehicles usually go up for grabs to the highest bidder but everyone in the county wasn't given a fair chance for the property. The new county administrator says that isn't proper protocol.  

Right in the middle of debates on impact fees and budget crunches, some old, dusty cars are the driving force of quite another discussion for county leaders.

"I think that this will be a wake-up call," says County Commission Chairman Jackie Sizemore. A wake-up call that involves county property.  This is how it started.  An April 19th email from Lee County Public Works requests that all interested county employees place their bids on several items on a list.

"I think there were approximately eight vehicles and a lawnmower," says County Administrator Alan Ours. They were purchased for quite a good deal.  One public works employee got a 1993 Ford Crown Victoria for $100 and a grey one for only $175. Another public works employee got  a 1985 Ford Pickup for $30 but it turns out, they shouldn't have.

"I think they were following procedures that they had been told how to do that in the past and we got a bunch of good people at public works," says Sizemore. The sales were a violation of state law.  Vehicles and property no longer needed by the county have to be approved and declared surplus by commissioners then advertised for the community.  County Administrator Alan Ours says that wasn't done.

"I do not believe that any ill will was intended by anyone. I believe that it was an innocent mistake," says Ours. A mistake that put those vehicles right back where they started.

"I directed the department head to have the employees turn the vehicles back into the county and the county refunded the money," says Ours. Ours says the problem came from not knowing.  He says Public Works didn't know the procedure and the bids also took place while the county didn't have a permanent county administrator on staff but he's now sure it won't happen again.

"I really see this as being an opportunity to learn and to move forward," says Ours. But as the county moves forward and beefs up purchasing policies, the cars will stand still until they can be purchased once again.

They will now be inventoried and put up for auction again. Both Jackie Sizemore and Alan Ours agree that in order to avoid this problem in the future, county employees shouldn't be allowed to bid on surplus property.

The county administrator asked the county attorney to draft an amendment to the county ordinance that would exclude employees from bidding on property in the future.

feedback: news@walb.com?subject=LeeSurplusProperty

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