Commissioners settle scanner dispute
Polk County Enterprise, June 2007
By VALERIE REDDELL
Special Sections Editor
LIVINGSTON — In a special meeting held at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, county commissioners voted to accept a negotiated settlement with Citicorp Vendor Financing Inc., that brings an end to a dispute over a Doc Star scanner used by three county documents.
The equipment had been placed at the county auditor’s office by a previous officeholder for use by he auditor’s department, human resources and the county treasurer’s office, county officials said.
The contract executed with Citicorp listed the scanner price at $16,000, according to Assistant District Attorney Joe Martin who negotiated on the county’s behalf.
“That price seems a little high since the current price for a top of the line scanner is $2,500 to $4,000,” Martin said. “But at the time the contract was executed that may not be out of line.”
The contract was set to expire this year, but county officials stopped making payments on the equipment when staff members found information stored on the scanner could not be transferred to other equipment without spending an additional $1,200 for software, according to Martin. Citicorp then sent a letter demanding payment and threatening a lawsuit.
Martin told commisioners that research showed that the purchase never came before Commissioners Court and county officials cannot bind the county to multiyear contracts.
The contract is not one that would have been approved by attorneys for the county if it had been reviewed, Martin said, because it gave New Jersey jurisdiction in the event any lawsuits arose.
Even if a lawsuit were filed in district court in Texas, Martin added that the county has soveriegn immunity in such a lawsuit.
Discussions with Citicorp officers resulted in a settlement offer of $7,000 and granting Polk County ownership of the equipment.
“If the settlement offer were $20,000 I might advise trying to fight it,” Martin said. “But it may cost a couple thousand just to consult a New Jersey attorney.”
Martin pointed out additional problems would arise if the company picked up the equipment and the county lost access to those records.
“That jack--- has cost us a lot of money already,” said Commissioner Bob Willis in response to a motion to agree to the settlement.
The motion by Tommy Overstreet and seconded by Ronnie Vincent passed with Willis voting against and Buddy Purvis absent.