by Kim Powell
MARTIN COUNTY - "You threw us under the bus on that deal," Bobby Holland, Martin County Commissioner, said.
Things got off to a rocky start in the special meeting for the Martin County Commissioner's Court where commissioners say Sheriff Woodward went behind their backs to purchase two new vehicles from a dealership in South Texas.
"He was talking about needing the vehicles," one disgruntled woman said.
"I understand, but that's not what we're talking about anyway, we're talking about the bid process," Bryan Cox, Martin County Commissioner, said.
"You never got in to the nitty gritty," she said.
Sheriff Woodward has put in several requests to discuss buying new vehicles, but the topic was repeatedly kicked off of the agenda.
"It could have been the loss of a stick note, a miscommunication, I don't believe there's one particular person at fault," Sheriff Woodward said.
"There's procedures that need to be followed, and we expected that. It's disappointing that an elected official circumvented it and just went about it by themselves," Holland said.
The department has been struggling to get new patrol units for over a year, and says that the vehicles they currently use are not safe or up to par with what the officers need. Commissioners argued that he should have looked at a local dealership first, to keep the taxpayer money within the county. However, according to the sheriff, the new vehicles would cost just over $37,000, which would save them about $24,000 if he purchased from the dealership in South Texas.
"It may be purchased if necessary to serve, to protect, the health, the safety of residents in the county. We have an obligation to these people," Sheriff Woodward said.
Just a few weeks ago, Midland County Commissioners voted and approved to donate a patrol vehicle to the Martin County Sheriff's Department at no cost to them. However, the Martin County Commissioner's denied it.
"I'm not here to cause division, gentlemen. I want to work with you all, I want to work with the county. It's just been a tough process," Sheriff Woodward said.