Mt. Vernon Register-News

February 22, 2014

Credit card policy on hold

By RICK HAYES rick.hayes@register-news.com
The Register-News

---- — MT. VERNON — A policy for the use of credit cards to conduct county business was proposed at Thursday’s Fiscal Committee meeting.

Currently, the only officeholder who is using credit cards is the sheriff’s department, according to information provided at the meeting.

Sheriff Roger Mulch said he has three cards in his possession — a Fast Fleet fuel card, Walmart and People’s Bank.

“I probably haven’t used them more than three or four times in 10 years,” Mulch said Friday. He indicated he had to use the Fast Fleet card during a storm when he was stranded recently, and the bank card may have been used for a hotel stay.

“I don’t use any of them unless there is an emergency. As an example, if we have water go out, we go to Walmart and purchase water. If it’s 2 in the morning, we have to have water,” he said.

Under the proposed credit card use, all cards must be signed out and back in at the County Board office or in the treasurer’s office is closed. Under Mulch’s emergency example, there would be no way for anyone from his department to access a county card.

“Under a normal 9 to 5 office hour situation, that’s fine, but we operate 24/7,” the sheriff said. “I think he (treasurer Dan Knox) is on the right track, making sure the cash flows better and to see what’s being charged. However, I think we can probably do it internally here. Actually, we’re already doing that.” Mulch explained at Thursday’s meeting the sheriff’s department has a credit card policy in place, noting cards are locked up and personnel must sign cards out and in the office.

Major Scott Burge of the sheriff’s department “centralizes” the cards, and orders some clothing online, according to Mulch. “That comes out of different line items in our budget, split out, and then submitted to the County,” he said.

According to the proposed policy, credit cards will only be issued for purchases that cannot be made via in-house charge amounts. All original receipts must be produced upon signing the credit cards back in and cards will be issued for only the time period needed, not exceeding 72 hours without “legitimate cause.”

All credit card bills will be paid as a demand claim in an effort to avoid late charges.

Mulch said he doesn’t feel the sheriff’s department is being singled out, although he said at Thursday’s meeting, “This is the first time we’ve been apprised of this, which I find inappropriate.”

Administrative Assistant Suzy Tate said the proposal was introduced so the county is not hit with any financial “surprises.” She said the county doesn’t want to know what each officeholder buys, but county officials would like to have notices of purchases so “we don’t get further behind.”

The Fiscal Committee briefly discussed the idea of providing purchase orders for officeholders for expenses over $500, although the committee took no action on the policy or approving purchase orders.

Tate and members of the committee agreed the policy may need to be “tweaked” some before it is adopted.

The topic has been postponed until the March 20 Fiscal Committee meeting.