After a motion to restrict all city employees from using city credit cards, the Clintonville Common Council agreed to send the policy to the Personnel Committee for review.
The city credit card policy came under discussion at a special city council meeting, Tuesday, May 6.
“It’s pretty self-explanatory, there is no use of the credit card according to the employee handbook. There is no use. Don’t use it.” said Council President Jeannie Schley to start the discussion. “So we have to do something or I don’t know because this is wrong.”
The use of the city credit card for travel was the main reason behind the discussion.
Alderman Mark Doornink said the current policy was drafted in 2001 and 2003.
“I think it’s reasonably understood that the use of credit cards in the last decade has gotten to be much greater than it was,” Doornink said.
He added that the Personnel Committee would continue to look into the policy and update it.
Aldersperson Gloria Dunlavy was adamant about following the current policy.
“Why aren’t we following exactly what it says here?” Dunlavy asked. “Regardless, I don’t care when it was written, it’s not been approved, so right now, no credit card. It can not be used. It doesn’t say that it can, therefore because it hasn’t been changed since 2003 or whenever this was dated at, we’re not following our personnel handbook and it has to be corrected like now.”
Doornink agreed the policy needs to be corrected immediately but wanted to know what impact this would have on the city’s day-to-day operations. He added that he’d like the council to come up with an overall policy, not just one for using the city credit card for travel.
Alderman Greg Rose made a motion that the “city credit card is put into disuse until we have a policy on how it can be used in any application.”
Doornink again asked how this would impact city employees doing their jobs.
City Administrator Lisa Kotter asked Rose if the motion meant nobody can use a city credit card.
“I believe that if we don’t have a policy in place on how it’s going to be used then every transaction we’re currently making, we’re shooting from the hip,” Rose said.
Kotter said except for rare exceptions, she uses the city credit card only for travel. She also asked that the city employees be allowed to speak on how this would impact their daily jobs. She cited Fleet Farm as an example of how the motion would hinder the city.
“Thousands of dollars are spent by city operations at Fleet Farm on a regular basis, probably a daily basis,” Kotter said.
Rose indicated he wasn’t referring to that. He also pointed out the city has expense accounts at local businesses.
Kotter said Fleet Farm doesn’t allow expense accounts. The city has a Fleet Farm credit card.
Clintonville Fire Chief, Shane Krueger was asked how no credit card use would impact the fire department.
“Speaking on behalf of my position with the fire department, we are making purchases on our credit card within the budget for items that do require to be purchased more efficiently online,” Krueger said. “If I would walk out of here with direction that I can’t make any of those purchases I’m certainly not going to instruct personnel or myself, for what we’re paid and compensated for being on the fire department, to make personnel expenses for reimbursement.”
Police Chief Terry Lorge agreed. He said his concern was part-time officers who don’t have the money to wait for reimbursement.
“It’s going to handicap me on being able to send officers to training or if we do a transport and they need it for a meal or fuel in the squad cars and things like that,” Lorge said. “Why should they use their own money to put gas in the squad car to get back home from a transport.”
He asked the council address the problem and not punish everyone.
“I can defend any purchase my department has made in 18 years I’ve been chief,” Lorge said.
Doornink informed the council that the Finance Committee reviews credit card charges every month, so there is accountability.
Tim Schmid, Clintonville city attorney, recommended to the council that it limit the motion to what was on the agenda. He said the current motion went beyond what was on the agenda.
Based on how the item appeared on the agenda, Rose withdrew his motion.
The board unanimously approved sending the policy to the Personnel Committee for review. Aldersperson Jerry Jorgenson was excused from the meeting.