Clausi calls out city on bills
SHAMOKIN - City council was urged to review the use of four closed city credit cards by the prior administration.
Vinny Clausi, Northumberland County commissioner, presented a spreadsheet during Monday's council meeting identifying a combined $8,156.04 in purchases in 2012 and 2013 made on two accounts each in the name of former Mayor George Rozinskie Jr. and former clerk Stephen D. Bartos. He said the figures were obtained through a records request.
The most substantial purchase was on a Rozinskie account: $3,847.19 to Verizon Wireless. Current clerk Robert M. Slaby explained that it was for city cell phones. The bill was paid with a credit card because the city didn't have the cash and wanted to avoid a shutoff, he said.
The remaining $4,308.85 in purchases were in varied amounts to local restaurants, department stores, vendors and convenience stores.
No receipts were available for any of the purchases, Clausi said.
Mayor William D. Milbrand was a councilman at the time the purchases were made. He said he could not recall ever having approved a bill list that included payment of a credit card statement, but that he was partially at fault for not having looked into use of the city's credit accounts.
"I had no clue that all these purchases were going on," Milbrand said.
Both he and Controller Gary Haddock each said they were unaware at the time that there were four accounts. Slaby said Milbrand directed him to close the accounts after he was hired in April.
The city now has a single credit card account and receipts are required to be returned with every purchase, Slaby said.
Clausi, who said he approached city hall on behalf of citizens he refused to identify, asked that council direct police Chief Darwin Tobias III to launch an investigation.
"You don't want to see abused $10, or $100 or $1 million, it's abuse of power," Clausi said.
Milbrand said after the meeting that the spending merits further investigation, and that council should look into establishing or updating official policy for use of municipal credit cards.
According to Clausi, purchases made from the accounts in Rozinskie's name were Walmart, $952.56; Dollar General, $41.34; Academy Sports, $24; Jack Williams, $229.95; Radio Shack, $211.99; Weis Markets, $26.69; Barnes and Noble, $104.01; Verizon Wireless, $3,847.19; Dunkin' Donuts, $13.99; Jones Hardware, $158.40; Turkey Hill, $20.07; late fee, $100; over limit fee, $39.
Purchases from the accounts in Bartos's name were Walmart, $230.09; Verizon, $365.75; OIP, $138.10; Turkey Hill, $297.88; Dunkin' Donuts, $62.94; Weis Markets, $64.10; Rita's Bakery, $114.95; Masser's Restaurant, $42.26; Precision Wireless, $344.85; Lowe's Home Improvement, $600.93; late fees, $125.
Milbrand said some of the purchases could be explained, but that without receipts it would be impossible to explain all of them.