Jasper County’s Law Enforce Sales Tax Grant Board will not for new printers at the Webb City Police Department, sending a message to area police departments to come to it and ask before buying items they didn’t request on their original grand application.
At a special meeting, held Tuesday, board members discussed two instances where the Webb City Police Department saved money on purchases without going over the amount of money granted to them.
The message from the board was clear — buy only what you request on the grant application. If the bids come in lower than expected, come to the board and ask before spending any money left over or the money will return to the county’s Law Enforcement Sales Tax grant fund.
“We want to do everything we can to help the police departments,” Board Chairman Jim Woestman said. “And we want to give all the money out. If you save some money, you come back to us. It’s not going to do us any good and we want it to go back out to you. If you come back to us, we’ll have a meeting and put it all together and take care of it.”
The board questioned Don Melton, with the Webb City Police Department about invoices for the purchases of bulletproof vests and a separate purchase of computer equipment.
In the case of the vests, Melton said Webb City ordered 13 vests as listed in $6,110 grant application from 2011.
Melton said the vests were ordered, but officers found them stiff and uncomfortable, so the department arranged to exchange them for an “upgrade” to lighter and thinner vests. They were able to get 16 of the newer vests for the cost of 13 of the older ones.
Melton said he emailed Assistant Auditor Doris Boyd, who keeps the minutes of the LEST Board meetings, to ask if he could buy the larger number of newer vests.
LEST Board member Brian Christmas said he took that into consideration when he moved to pay the costs of the vests.
“They did make the attempt,” Christmas said.
The board voted 3-1, with Board Member Leslie Jones, Joplin’s city finance director, voting no, to recommend that the county commissioners pay the entire bill.
The board was less forgiving on a second purchase by the Webb City Police Department.
In this case, Boyd said the department applied for $10,008 for eight tower computers, software, hardware, set-up and a three-year maintenance agreement.
In response to questions from the board, Melton said the department got a good bid on the computers and used in-house labor to set them up.
Page 2 of 2 - The department then purchased two printers, toner and troubleshooting for the printers.
Boyd said the total cost in invoices presented to the county for computers and printers was $6,886, far less than the $10,008 requested.
However, because the printers were not on the original grant application, the board voted 4-0 not to pay $1,032.18 for those items.
The board also set Feb. 1, 2013 as the deadline for departments to apply for money from the 2013 LEST grant fund and set Feb. 19, 2013 as the date to meet to award those grants.
Woestman said the auditor’s office had told him the amount of money available in 2013 will be similar to the amount available in 2012.
Boyd said she estimated that the grant fund, which is 4.3 percent of the proceeds of the county’s quarter-cent Law Enforcement Sales Tax, will generate $170,136 in 2013, compared to $164,398 in 2012.
The board also agreed to allow the Missouri Southern Police Department to apply for money from the grant fund.
Ken Kennedy said his department consists of seven full-time commissioned officers and he is bringing on reserve officers, with plans to grow to 10 reserve officers.
“We have a vital police presence on campus and mutual aid agreements with most other agencies in the area,” Kennedy said. “We’re a growing, thriving police department and we’d like to be included with the rest of the agencies in the county.”
Kennedy said his department is funded with state money that comes to Missouri Southern, which he said is really slim at this time.
The county ordinance regarding the fund says it “shall be made available to Jasper County Juvenile office, cities in Jasper County that want to contract police services with the sheriff’s office, and other law enforcement agencies in Jasper County through annual grant applications.”