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No deals for Lawrence sheriff
Department loses out on equipment bargains while waiting for county administrator's OK

By Kristen Bishop
kbishop@decaturdaily.com 340-2443

MOULTON — The Lawrence County Sheriff's Department is making do with fewer lightbars than originally requested after waiting more than a month for the county administrator to determine if the items were on the state's competitive bid list.

Sheriff Gene Mitchell found the lightbars on sale in May for about $1,300 each — a steal at $2,100 off the regular price, he said — and planned to buy 10 for new patrol cars.

According to the advertisement for the lightbars, the sale expired April 30, but Mitchell said the company had agreed to extend the sale to him for a limited time.

The County Commission approved the purchase during its May meeting, but by its June meeting, County Administrator Linda Harville had not submitted the purchase order.

When questioned, she said she couldn't find the lightbars on the state's competitive bid list, a requirement for all government purchases over $7,500.

Mitchell told her and the commission the lightbars must have been on the list because the state Alcoholic Beverage Control Board had just purchased 60 of them from the same supplier.

Rather than wait any longer for Harville to track down the information and risk losing the sale price, Mitchell said Monday he decided to buy only five at a total cost of about $6,500.

It wouldn't have been the first time Mitchell had lost a bargain for the department during his six months as sheriff because of the county administrator's seemingly slow pace. The Lawrence County Jail still needs a backup generator like one Mitchell tried to purchase in April.

He jumped on the opportunity to buy a used generator for about $26,000 less than a new one would cost, but Harville held the purchase order for two weeks past the deadline.

A new 250-kilowatt generator costs about $32,000 — far more than the Sheriff's Department has to spend, said Mitchell.

Even the $16,000 price tag on a used generator at the Alabama Department of Economic and

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