GREENVILLE — Darke County Commissioners announced the adoption of a new credit card policy at their bi-weekly meeting Wednesday.
As previously reported by The Daily Advocate, Ohio Auditor of State Dave Yost issued a press release in July stating that lack of strict guidelines concerning credit card use could put government funds at risk of misuse by dishonest employees.
According to a survey referenced in the release, many government offices in Ohio have no formal policy regarding employee credit card use, including lists of expenses it is acceptable to use the cards for, and some cards have spending limits of anywhere from $100,000 to as much as $1 million dollars. In addition, some offices allow the same employees authorized to make credit card purchases to be put in charge of monitoring spending on those accounts, allowing potential abusers the opportunity to cover their own tracks.
According to the report, credit card abuse could account for as much as $1.2 million of theft or misspending by Ohio governments since 2011.
Darke County’s previous credit card policy, issued by the Board of Commissioners, specified that cards represent accounts issued by Greenville National Bank; that each card have a spending limit of no more than $1,000; that cards be in the name of the specific department having use of the card; and that “under no circumstances is [a] county card to be used for personal reasons.” However, the policy itself did not specify the number of accounts held by the county, number of cards attached to those accounts, or the number of personnel allowed to have access, nor did it provide detailed guidelines for acceptable use.
The revised policy lists a number of “appointing authorities” with the ability to sign off on a county employee being issued a credit card, including the County Commissioners themselves, the Prosecuting Attorney, the County Sheriff, Clerk of Courts, County Auditor, County Treasurer, and others. It also specifies that purchases be approved by the appointing authority before the card is used; that the card be returned to the county department head or appointing authority immediately upon the employee returning to work; and that an original itemized receipt or equivalent documentation be submitted concurrently with the return of the card. Finally, the policy establishes a list of items that cannot be paid for with a county-issued card, including alcoholic beverages and tobacco products, controlled substances, personal items, and cash advances.
“We haven’t had any issues with misuse,” Darke County auditor Carol Ginn said when previously interviewed about the county’s credit card use policy. “The staff and elected officials in charge of those accounts watch that very closely.”
Commissioner Matthew Aultman stated that he and Ginn had worked on the new policy together.
“Other counties have already implemented this policy,” Aultman said. “We went over it this week and changed some things to fit it to our county, cleaned up some verbiage, and so on.”
The new policy goes into effect December 1.