Brewster County Loses Over $53,000 Following Unapproved Purchase

Brewster County Loses Over $53,000 Following Unapproved Purchase

by Zora Asberry

NewsWest 9

BREWSTER COUNTY - A financial mess for Brewster County after former County Judge, Kathy Killingsworth, used grant money to buy an emergency response vehicle back in December. Officials tell NewsWest 9 that she did it without the approval of the commissioners court.

Standard purchasing procedure requires approval from commissioners before any grant money can be used. Because proper procedure was not followed, Brewster County is now short $53,106.

The Brewster County Treasurer, Ruth Staton, said, "The treasurer can approve the use of $500, $2,500, the judge can approve but anything over $5,000 you have to have the approval of the whole commissioners court."

Although buying an emergency vehicle is a legitimate purchase, in order for the county to be reimbursed, the court must follow the rules of the grant issued by the State Homeland Security Grant Program (SHSP).

"There was money left over from 2013 that was closing out and that's what that money was for. They had this closing amount so they were buying an emergency vehicle for the Terlingua EMS & Fire Department," Staton said.

The county faced another problem regarding the company they purchased the vehicle from, Echostream Motor Group DBA Odyssey Specialty Vehicles.

"The company (EchoStream/Odyssey) may be seeking protection under bankruptcy so the deadline for that vehicle has passed," Staton said.

The county now must cover the complete cost of the emergency vehicle purchase, which amounts to $53,106 total.

"The grant has already been de-obligated. Which means the money is no longer there, it's been sent back. So the county is just out  $53,000," Staton said.

The county hopes to adjust their budget without using taxpayer dollars for the expense, but in the future, they hope to prevent this from happening again.

"We did some budget cuts or I should say the commissioners court did some budget cuts and everything will be okay," Staton said.

The county hopes to bounce back from the mistake and plans on approving a Purchasing Policy Procedure at their upcoming commissioners court meeting on Monday, March 9.