Commissioners discuss budgeting, payment of invoices


Accountability and communication were the words of the day for Van Zandt County leaders July 28, with commissioners and county auditor Kenny Edwards spending extended time talking about invoices received from various departments without the necessary purchase order numbers.

The discussion, which came near the end of the meeting, picked up where the July 14 commissioners court meeting left off. At that time, Edwards noted that his office had received several invoices for payment lacking the needed purchase order numbers.

 “I just don’t know what I’m supposed to do here,” Edwards said. “I’ve got invoices over there. I added them up yesterday, and what I currently have is approximately $17,000 worth of invoices without purchase orders. I know some things don’t require purchase orders, but a lot of things do.”

Edwards said many of the invoices are for maintenance and repair to building issues at the county jail, as well as sheets and clothing for inmates. He added that the county jail wasn’t solely responsible for the unpaid invoices in his office, referencing a county worker that purchased two tires for a vehicle totaling $750.

The invoices are for unpaid bills from March and April and include one dating back to late 2014, Edwards said.

“It’s just an issue here and we need to figure out what to do,” he said. “I know money is always a concern. It seems like that’s always the driving force of our problems …We do everything backwards. We’re supposed to follow the budget. That’s the way it’s set up.”

Edwards said he needed direction from the commissioners on how to proceed.

“We all need to make decisions on what to do. I don’t know what I’m supposed to do. I’ve got all these bills here and I’m not really supposed to pay the without a PO, so I’m kinda caught between a rock and a hard place,” he said. “The other issue is that we’ve got vendors here that come out and do work and I’ve got those bills that haven’t been paid yet. Then you get into the issue of ‘well, we don’t pay these people.’ We get to the point where they might not want to work for the county anymore. It creates a lot of issues.”

Edwards said several unforeseen or higher than expected costs, including the outsourcing of prisoners from the county jail and higher medical costs for prisoners have created a ripple effect.

County Judge Don Kirkpatrick was firm in his response. “I can tell you where I stand. If we didn’t follow the law, which is in the statute, we’re going to pay the bill,” he said. “At some time there has to be accountability and there is a process by law that you follow.”


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