Board Tables Credit Card Proposal

WINNSBORO – A proposal to implement a credit card style procurement method was tabled by the Fairfield County School Board at their Nov. 19 meeting at the Magnet School for Math and Science after a period of intense debate.

The program, put forward by Kevin Robinson, Director of Finance, and recommended by Superintendent J.R. Green, would replace the District’s current procurement practices requiring staff to fill out purchase orders and the District to cut checks. Robinson said the program would allow the District to utilize more local vendors when making purchases and said Wal-Mart, for example, consistently has difficulties processing the District’s checks. Robinson requested a card for each school, as well as one card for each of the District’s major departments. The District can put specific spending limits on each card, Robinson said, as well as control where the cards can be used. Using the cards for purchases would eliminate the costs associated with processing purchase orders, and the District would be eligible for cash rebates for using the cards.

The Bank of America Visa Purchasing Card program is approved by the State Budget and Control Board, Robinson said.

In their application to Bank of America, the District requested nine initial cards, with a request for 20 cards at full implementation. The types of purchases listed on the application were “supplies, equipment and travel,” with a first year anticipated spending volume of $600,000. At full implementation, that volume was expected to increase to $1.2 million, according to the application.

Board member William Frick (District 6) put the motion on the floor to accept the recommendation. The motion was seconded by Henry Miller (District 3). But Board members Bobby Cunningham (District 5) and Annie McDaniel (District 4) had serious questions about controls over the card, and McDaniel said the Board should craft a new policy governing the use of the cards before the program was approved. She also suggested a pilot program, authorizing a limited number of cards, to test the waters.

The procurement card debate came only minutes after Eddie McAbee, one of the District’s auditors, reviewed the 2012-2013 budget audit and told the Board that his firm, McAbee, Schwartz, Halliday & Co., had found problems within the existing procurement process. McAbee said the audit uncovered several instances where purchase orders had not been properly completed and submitted before the corresponding purchases were made. Green later told the Board that that issue had been addressed and that staff had been directed to complete purchase orders before making purchases.

With his original motion still on the floor, Frick moved to table the matter. That motion carried unanimously.

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