LOWVILLE — There was no confrontation between Lewis County Sheriff Michael Carpinelli and the Board of Legislators in the August regular board meeting Tuesday evening; however, there was movement, if not closure, to the stand-off between the elected officials.
General Services Committee Chairman Jerry King made two unscheduled motions on different aspects of the controversy.
The first motion was to allow the sheriff to fill a part-time deputy position on the Parks and Recreation patrol while the second was to pay the $10,000 bill owed to the small Constableville business that sold five long guns to the sheriff, the Four Corners Trading Post.
Since the controversy developed in May, the sheriff has limited the hours of the recreation patrol, saying he was cutting down on overtime expenses by doing so, but the board is trying to encourage tourism and recreation in the county to build the tourism industry.
Sheriff Carpinelli’s office ordered the guns with sights and stocks from the Four Corners’ proprietor, William F. Kaiser, before getting the final approval from budget officer and County Manager Ryan Piche.
County Attorney Joan E. McNichol addressed the legislators before they voted.
“I just want to point out to the board that the Sheriff, in handling this the way that he did, violated two parts of our purchase policies in our administrative manual,” she said.
The policy states that equipment must both be included in the budget and be approved by the county manager as the budget officer to be purchased.
Ms. McNichol also noted that because the sheriff didn’t obtain written or verbal quotes or get bids, the gun purchase was also “a significant violation of our procurement policy.”
“I will be providing something to the sheriff to indicate that he must follow these policies and not place this board and the county in violation of procurement policies,” Ms. McNichol said. “If he is going to direct any other member of his department to place orders, he needs to make them aware of those policies.”
She will also be sending a letter to Four Corners to ensure that a similar situation does not happen again.
“I will be sending that business a letter to clarify that he is not to go ahead and place any orders on behalf of any county department or county employee without having a signed, valid purchase order executed by the proper person, and that is our county manager.”
Both motions passed unanimously.
“The reason I moved this motion forward is that, regardless of our difference or not following policies, for people to do business with us, they need to be paid,” Mr. King said.
Resolutions approving the $6,400 in grant funds from the Department of Homeland Security to cover “payroll costs” for patrols at the moe.down festival and allocation of those funds to the sheriff’s department also passed unanimously.
“Nobody knew anything about applying for this grant and nothing was approved by the board or the committee and we’re kind of between a rock and a hard spot,” said Mr. King, “The usual process is to come to us and ask to apply for the grant.”
Prior to the start of the meeting, the board went into executive session to discuss the way forward with the sheriff in light of the recent filing by Mr. Kaiser.
Sheriff Carpinelli did not attend the meeting and it was unclear as to whether he had provided the board with any of the information they had requested during the committee meeting last month.