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Officials to revoke credit cards



Published: Wed, January 9, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



Commissioners will replace the credit cards with a reimbursement system.

By BOB JACKSON

VINDICATOR COURTHOUSE REPORTER

YOUNGSTOWN -- Mahoning County officials and employees might as well get used to leaving home without their county-issued American Express cards.

Commissioners are expected to revoke all county credit cards for employee travel upon recommendation of Gary Kubic, county administrator. The only credit cards allowed will be for gasoline and only by departments that are responsible for public safety.

Kubic submitted his recommendation to commissioners Tuesday. It was the result of several weeks of research into how other counties pay for travel and other work-related expenses.

Showing support: "I think this will protect everyone -- the county employees, elected officials and the taxpayers," said Commissioner Vicki Allen Sherlock. "It's the right move."

In October, commissioners said they would overhaul the credit-card policy in the wake of complaints about possible misuse.

In the past, county officials and employees used government credit cards to pay for work-related travel expenses. That became an issue last fall when Sherlock was criticized for putting personal expenses on a county card.

She has since paid back all the money, including charges that were allowable for her trips to Cincinnati and Marietta, and insists she has done nothing wrong. The Ohio Auditor's Office is looking into the matter but has not issued a report.

Kubic's recommendation is that officials and employees who travel charge the costs to their personal credit cards and submit a voucher to the county for reimbursement.

Biggest concern: The primary concern was whether the county could ensure that reimbursement would be made within 30 days, so the employee's personal bill can be paid on time, he said.

Tablack said his office shoots for a one-week turnaround time on payments.

Commissioners could vote as early as Tuesday; Kubic recommended a deadline of Feb. 1.

County Commissioner David Ludt said it's the same plan he recommended weeks ago.

"If other counties can do things like travel without credit cards, we should be able to do it, too," Ludt said.

Kubic looked at credit-card policies in Franklin, Hamilton and Montgomery counties because they are similar in size to Mahoning. He also surveyed local department heads to see who has county credit cards and how often they are used.

According to information from Tablack's office, county employees charged a total $166,018 to county credit cards last year. About $55,600 of that was on gas cards, with the rest on American Express and Visa cards for travel and other expenses.

bjackson@vindy.com




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