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Mabton Council questions police car purchase

MABTON - Mabton City Council members questioned authorization to purchase a police vehicle from West Richland at last night's meeting.

"Prior to my arrival, someone had gone to West Richland and someone had agreed to accept a vehicle," Interim Police Chief Robert Perales told council members.

Consequently, West Richland Council members agreed to surplus the then-in-use 2000 Crown Victoria and destripe it for Mabton's use for $5,000. A non-refundable light bar had also been purchased to install in the vehicle.

All of this was done without Mabton council consent or knowledge.

"How'd this happen?" asked council member Vera Zavala.

Council member Mario Martinez questioned whether Mabton had a choice at this point to purchase the vehicle.

City Attorney Jack Maxwell said that he didn't believe the city could be forced to purchase the car, but they could be forced to pay for the light bar and destriping, which Perales estimates at about $2,500.

Perales told council that, apparently, the car was to replace a vehicle that was destroyed by fire and $10,000 in insurance was collected from that incident.

Martinez asked to know the background of the transaction.

"It seems to me like this would be some pretty important information as to who initiated this process.

"We can't just have people going off and signing contracts or entering into agreements without bringing it before council."

During the discussion, Perales expressed concern that if the council didn't move to approve the purchase of the car, "They're going to just send us a bill."

Council members Angel Reyna, Vera Zavala and Oping Hutson voted in favor to purchase the car, but to conduct an investigation as to how the process was initiated and by whom.

The resolution to purchase the car will be signed at the next council meeting.

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