When she asked for one, she says, she was told the purchasing department couldn't buy it, because it would cost too much.

"When I requested it, they were telling me they couldn't get one because it was going to cost $200," Bates says.

A baffled Bates checked with a co-worker, who had also requested a box, and the colleague said she had been told the same thing. Bates called an office-supply store and was told what she wanted was available for $16. "I was going to go get the one for $16, but one of the girls in the office said there was a discount supply store down the street, the other side of the bail bondsman, that might sell it cheaper," she says.

The mailbox the county would have paid $200 for, Bates bought for $4.50.
"No wonder we're in trouble," she says.

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