$1,200 bill for snacks triggers debate

Last updated: August 08. 2014 4:50PM - 715 Views
By Jane Beathard jbeathard@civitasmedia.com

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An unexpected $1,250 credit card bill for snacks sold at the London Municipal Pool spurred 30-minutes of debate by city council on Thursday.

Council members appeared surprised to learn safety-services director Steve Hume carries a Sam’s Club Discover Card billed to the city. Although, auditor Katie Hensel said charges appear on her monthly report and are reviewed at finance committee meetings.

Hume said he applied for the credit card earlier this year in order to facilitate online purchases of pool supplies and equipment for the community center, as well as other day-to-day city needs. Hume said he forwards all charge receipts to the auditor’s office to avoid surprises. Card balances are limited to $5,400.

The issue — and card — might have gone unnoticed if it wasn’t for the July bill that reflected $1,250 in snacks purchased at Sam’s Club for re-sale at the pool concession stand.

Because the total exceeded $1,000 and the funds were not “encumbered,” or set aside in advance, payment required an “auditor’s warrant” and council approval.

Awaiting that approval added late fees to the bill, Hensel noted.

Hume acknowledged his mistake in spending money without pre-approval.

But, his apology didn’t quell the outcry.

Member Steve Scaggs said he’s opposed to paying all bills that are not approved in advance.

“We’ve talked about it multiple times,” Scaggs said. “I will vote ‘no’ on all auditor’s warrants.”

President Pat Closser called the credit card “a bad idea” and suggested penalizing all city employees who spend money without prior approval.

Hensel said a 2012 ordinance governs use of city credit cards and requires the mayor to authorize credit card applications. Hume did not follow those procedures to obtain the Discover Card.

“He didn’t follow the policy,” Hensel said. “The mayor never asked to issue a credit card to Steve Hume.”

In the end, council agreed to pay the bill with Scaggs casting the only ‘no’ vote.

Contact Jane Beathard at 740-852-1616, ext. 1616, or via Twitter @JaneBeathard.

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