County sets standard procedure for adding inventory items

On Thursday, Dec. 14, the Lander County Commission discussed the approval of a minimum dollar amount and minimum standards for the inventory recording system. The commission wants to improve how the county’s inventory is monitored and secured.

Near the end of summer 2017, someone broke into the Lander County storage facility and stole several generators and a chainsaw. The generators were brand new, so the county had not added their serial numbers in the inventory recording system. Wanting to learn from the mistake, the commission discussed setting a minimum dollar amount and developing a standard procedure for adding items to the inventory.

The county has since recovered the stolen generators thanks to the help of the Lander County Sheriff’s Office. Commissioners wanted stricter standards in place to prevent the issue from happening again.

Commissioner Art Clark said, “When I worked at the school district we had property tags for everything in the school. I’m not too worried about desks inside this building. I am concerned about big things like gurneys, chainsaws and generators.” He added that the county also needed a way to secure inventory.

“All that is getting worked on. I just want to know what dollar amount the commission wants to have inventoried,” replied Lander County Executive Director Keith Westengard. “We do put property tags on anything over $5,000 right now. The stolen generators cost approximately $1,000, so they didn’t receive a tag.”

Commissioner Patsy Waits suggested $500 as the new minimum for inventory, adding that the amount is high enough to warrant inventory while not burdening the county by having to include inexpensive items like a coffee pot. The board approved this minimum dollar amount.

The county would have to hire a third party company to perform the inventory. Commissioner Sean Bakker asked Westengard how much the inventory service would cost.

“For a company to come and set up the items into the inventory, we are looking in the neighborhood of $25,000,” answered Westengard. “That’s for him to come in and do everything in the county. What we do now is an annual inventory list, and we don’t get it back sometimes, or it is inaccurate.”

Commissioner Judie Allan wanted to make sure the county records serial numbers immediately. Westengard assured her that “anything that comes in is now immediately recorded.”

Sheriff and volunteer firefighter Ron Unger said, “This has nothing to do with the Sheriff’s office but at the fire department we buy nozzles, we buy a lot of hoses, and many of those items cost over $500 a piece. Are we required to unload all those items out of the trucks to put those in inventory for the county? That is what I am worried about because it will take two or three people that will have to make time to do that and it will be time-consuming.”

Public Works director Burt Ramos suggested the creation of a few separate lists so each department can distinguish between the items in the field used daily and those items that will sit in storage for long periods of time.

The commission approved the minimum value of $500 for inventoried items, but not the $25,000 cost of hiring a third party to perform the county’s inventory.