Shamokin freezes credit card
SHAMOKIN - City council has temporarily frozen the use of a city credit card account that's nearly maxed out.
Councilmen William Milbrand, Michael Snyder and William Strausser and Mayor George Rozinskie Jr. voted Monday to halt the use of the card in the interim.
Council stopped short of removing the name of city Clerk Steve Bartos from the account. That issue could be revisited when council reorganizes in January and introduces two new members to the board, allowing the new version of council to decide whose name to put on the account.
Rozinskie's name will be removed from a second credit card account that is maxed out. The move was made since his term will end this year.
Both cards have a $2,500 limit, Rozinskie said after the meeting. However, during the meeting, Controller Gary Haddock said $12,000 in purchases were made in 2013 using the cards.
"I've been asked a couple times where did this money go. Quite frankly, again, the bookkeeping for lack of a better word, stinks, because there was $12,000 on those credit cards last year booked to no specific account that is not showing up on your budget," Haddock said.
Both cards have the City of Shamokin and either the mayor's name or the clerk's name on the card, Milbrand said.
Haddock recommended closing both accounts, but Milbrand said the city must have at least one active credit card account for online purchases or services. If so, Haddock said restrictions must be placed on use of the cards and he questioned the legitimacy of several purchases for pizza, baked goods and electronics.
Milbrand said "I'm not making excuses for anyone," but said some of the purchases could have been related to refreshments purchases for city events.
"The accountability definitely has to be there for whatever is spent on them. When the credit card bill comes in for whatever was spent, it needs to be coded in the right areas," he said.
Milbrand added that Bartos "assured me" that the credit card purchases were coded correctly, but he isn't certain. "I'll be watching with you," he said to Haddock.
"I agree with you 100 percent," Rozinskie said to Haddock.
The city has an estimated $800,000 in unpaid bills for which it's seeking a loan on the recommendation of the state Department of Community and Economic Development. The loan must receive court approval, for which a hearing will be held at 9:15 a.m. Wednesday.
It's also facing a $614,000 deficit in its preliminary budget for 2014. There are two special budget meetings planned for 6 p.m. Dec. 12 and Dec. 18 to work on a final budget. The budget is expected to be voted on during a meeting at 6 p.m. Dec. 23, rescheduled from Dec. 30.
Treasurer Brenda Scandle told council she needs to use a city credit card this week. Milbrand said council would work with her on the issue.