Board OK’s Credit Cards

WINNSBORO – The Fairfield County School Board gave approval Tuesday night to a new procurement program that eliminates the need for purchase orders for items under $2,500. The Bank of America Visa Purchasing Card program, which is sanctioned by the State Budget and Control Board, passed on a 4-3 vote, with Andrea Harrison (District 1), Paula Hartman (District 2) and Annie McDaniel (District 4) voting against.

The Board had tabled the issue last month after debate over controls for the cards. Tuesday night, those controls were addressed, according to Kevin Robinson, Director of Finance, with a detailed policy. Nine cards will be issued in the initial rollout of the program, one to the principal at each of the District’s schools. A total of 20 cards will be in play when the program reaches full implementation early next year, with cards issued to heads of the District’s various departments. Cards are to be used for purchases of $2,500 or less and each card has a $3,000 limit at one time. While purchase orders will not be required for expenditures made with the cards, a form will be filled out by the principals for each purchase made.

“If we anticipate or we run into problems with departments not following procedures, then we can decide that they will have to do purchase orders,” Robinson said. “But in order to optimize the efficiency of the card, we decided we won’t have purchase orders for purchases of $2,500 or less.”

It is the “same purchasing power” principals and department heads have now, Board member William Frick (District 6) said, only with a different process.

“It’s not extending a credit line any more than it already is,” Frick said. “It’s not giving them more money than they’ve already got.”

Cardholders will, under the District’s guidelines, have to turn in daily receipts to the District and weekly reports of the card transactions will be reviewed by District staff. Receipts and monthly statements will be maintained by the District for five years.

The card is not, according to the policy, to be used for personal purchases or the purchase of alcohol. A cardholder will face disciplinary action if they allow the card to be used by an unauthorized user or if they split purchases in an effort to circumvent the $2,500 limit.

“My understanding is the receipts would have to be turned in or that individual (cardholder) would be responsible for that purchase,” Board Chairwoman Beth Reid said.

But Hartman was wary of the program and asked if the District had not had issues with credit cards in the past. Using a credit card can sometimes be too easy, Hartman said, and good people often find themselves in a bind over credit card use.

“I am optimistic that people will do the right thing and behave in a responsible fashion,” J.R. Green, Superintendent of Fairfield County Schools, said. “And when individuals don’t behave in a responsible fashion, then we will address it.”

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