The Dawson County Board of Commissioners received a demand for arbitration Nov. 4 over an unpaid bill for inmate food service. The Dawson County Sheriff’s Office owes $52,060.88 to ABL Management, a vendor that provided meals for inmates from 2016 until Jan. 2019.
The demand for arbitration came a month after a final notice was sent, stating that the Sheriff’s Office was “120 days past due on the payment of its invoices” and that payment needed to be made in full by Oct. 1.
That notice also mentioned that the vendor had “requested payment of the outstanding amount several times,” and that “the Dawson County Sheriff was given until Sept. 11, 2019 to pay the balance in full. This did not occur.”
According to Joey Homans, lawyer for the Dawson County Sheriff's Office, the payment was not made because the request was made after the end of the fiscal year 2018 when the Sheriff's Office had already turned in its excess budget.
The demand for arbitration claimed that the Dawson County Sheriff’s Office “has acted in bad faith, has been stubbornly litigious and has caused Claimant (the vendor) unnecessary trouble and expense.”
The Dawson County Board of Commissioners sets the budget for the Sheriff’s Office each year. From there, how the Sheriff elects to spend that budget is up to his discretion. Vendor invoices are sent by the Sheriff’s Office to the Dawson County Purchasing Department, who then issues payment.
From Jan. 2018 to Jan. 2019, 15 weekly invoices went unpaid, with some months seeing as many as three out of four invoices go missing.
Whether or not the invoices ever made it to the Sheriff's Office is still under investigation, but the Board of Commissioners decided during the Executive Session of their Nov. 21 meeting to pay the outstanding balance instead of going through with arbitration, according to a source familiar with the decision.
This story will continue to be updated as more facts become available.