Besides a heated discussion, the St. Francois County Commission did make several approvals during its meeting last week.
St. Francois County Auditor Bret Burgess presented the commission with his plan for new county credit cards.
“This has been a cooperative effort by a multitude of people,” said Burgess. “The county has a number of credit cards out there and we have been advised by the independent auditor that we probably need to look at who is allowed to have credit cards and who is not.
“We need to have a policy in place to address those matters, so one of our initial steps that we thought we would do is get with some of those who need a credit card for multiple purchases throughout their work week.”
Burgess added that instead of having multiple people using one credit card and then have difficulty explaining expenses under one account, they thought they would go with one credit card per person. They would sign that credit card over to him or her with an amount based on what they think they need.
“Every credit card has to have a limit,” said Burgess. “We tried to meet with several of these individuals specifically in the beginning to see what their limits need to be and they visited with us in their needs.
“So we then visited with our county treasurer to discuss how we can go about these credit cards and there was some discussion that First State Community Bank had an opportunity to do that. So what you have before you today is an approval application for these credit cards. What this will do for us in the short term is that it’s going to take a number of credit cards that are being used by multiple employees and we are going to give each employee one credit card.”
He added that this is not a countywide thing yet, but they have to start somewhere. Burgess said they are starting with road and bridge and then juvenile departments. He said the biggest thing is that it’s difficult when there are a lot of accounts out there, a lot of lines of credit, because they need to try to tailor this the best way they can and create some accountability for those who are making purchases.
“I think they all like the idea of using one credit card per person, versus one credit card for multiple people,” said Burgess. “We have had some issues where they couldn’t remember if they bought that item or not and when there is three shared individuals on a credit card that poses a problem.”
St. Francois County Highway Administrator Wendell Jarvis gave his thought on the transition and said that he has had a credit card for three or four years now.
“It has my name on it, as well as St. Francois County, so it makes me responsible for that card and that’s the way I wanted it,” said Jarvis. “The reason I got it in the beginning was to order parts for equipment, it may be out of state and they just didn’t want to send is the parts because they didn’t know who we were or what was going on. So it would have taken three or four days to set up a line of credit with them to get this parts and I couldn’t wait that long to get them.”
They thought it was the best option to get the credit card, order the parts and get the parts the next day. Jarvis said that it has worked out very well and he thinks these credit cards Burgess are talking about will be for two workers and they will have a $10,000 limit on it.
“I have already talked to them and they think it is a great idea. It’s going to eliminate a lot of paperwork for them,” said Jarvis. “We won’t have so many places sending us bills. We will just have the one credit card bill. I think it is a great idea. It will cut down on the paperwork and everyone will responsible for their own cards.”
Burgess added that they have a number of credit cards and it’s a bit of a process, so it’s going to take them some time do that. He said they are getting cooperation from everybody they have talked with and they have to start small and work big.
“We would all like to eliminate credit cards but the reality is that it is not practical,” said Burgess. “You would hear maybe from the independent auditor to cut down as many as we can and I think we are going to try to do that and streamline the process. The less vendor cards we have to deal with, the better. There are a number of cards out there and we do not have a record of all the credit cards because there has been no policy in these departments to inform us.”
Associate Commissioner Gay Wilkinson asked Burgess how many credit cards they were talking about and what the cost would be to the county for everyone to get their own card.
Burgess responded that he doesn’t think there is a cost incurred, but he thinks there will be more accountability to know the credit cards.
Wilkinson then asked how he selected First State Community Bank and that he thinks other banking institutions would like to be considered.
Burgess responded that he is sure they would, but they are their bank and there is no bid process here. “They are our bank of choice by the county and we have accounts with them. So that probably helped out with the financing and the treasurer can speak to that.”
St. Francois County Treasurer Kerry Glore said that they also have a depository with them so First State Community Bank was the logical choice for the credit cards.
After much discussion the commission made the approval for the new county credit cards with the First State Community Bank.
Burgess also requested to increase the budget line item for mileage and training for the county auditor.
“When we came in office we had the standard line-item budget that the previous auditor set,” said Burgess. “We didn’t take much into account for the multiple new staff members and the multiple travel for training. Currently we have a training and mileage budget of $1,200 for the auditor’s office. We are requesting to have the item be adjusted. We are requesting an additional $7,500 being added to that. It’s important to know that by law we can’t ask for a budget adjustment unless we have new monies coming in so the only reason we can ask for this request is because we do have new monies coming in.”
The commission approved the budget adjustment request and also addressed the county collector turnover of funds from the Tax Maintenance Fund to the General Fund and recommended where to designate the money.
The county collector turned over $61,602 to the general fund and it was recommended for $7,500 of it to be used for the budget adjustment for the auditor’s office. The rest will go toward new accounting software purchases in the future. The auditor’s office is running on 20-year-old software, so an update is overdue.
Renee Bronaugh is a reporter for the Daily Journal and can be reached at 573-518-3617 or email@example.com