The Town of Paonia's debit card policy has been reviewed due to receipts not being submitted and alleged illegal activity by the former finance officer.
The town has eight debit cards which are to be used for town business only.
The public works department has two cards, the police department two, the building inspector one, the town clerk one, the mayor one and one for Francis Winston who tests the town's water.
"We have evaluated that we do have a need for those [debit cards]," Mayor Neal Schwieterman said. He noted that some staff and the mayor do not use the debit cards "very much."
"The need comes in the biggest sense when people are traveling for training. You need a credit card for doing that," he said. "It's very manageable. We just have to have better safe guards in place. Many of them are already in place, but we're still working."
Trustee Brian Ayers, who is on the finance committee, recommended that if receipts are not submitted, the town staff or elected official should have to pay the debit card expense.
Mayor Schwieterman disagrees. "That's a rather draconian option at this stage of the game. . . What isn't in place yet is a system of 100 percent accountability. . . We have to give our employees a chance to adjust their behavior."
He continued, "If when we have all those safe guards in place and we still aren't getting receipts then we may visit [Brian's recommendation] or simply take their [debit] card away."
The mayor said he has run into two occasions when he could not get a receipt. One was for a lunch that was under $5 and the restaurant wouldn't give a receipt. He wrote down the information and submitted it to town hall so the charge could be tracked. He also couldn't get a debit card receipt for food at a Colorado Municipal League meeting because the food was brought in from outside.
Water samples tested in Delta do not provide a receipt when delivered. They can provide an e-mail receipt which will be sent to town clerk Barbara Peterson. Peterson will print the receipts and attach them to the bill.
There are other situations when receipts are not being given, but the town clerk is working on a resolution to get the documentation needed.
"I am 100 percent confident we can have the methodology to make all these things have all the accountability they need," Schwieterman said.
"We have to change some behavior here. We have to allow that to occur," he said. "Previously receipts were just turned in en masse to the finance person, and now we've gone to a different methodology."
Now the department heads — Travis Loberg director of public works, police chief Scott Leon and town clerk Barb Peterson — will receive the receipts and assign the budget line item number that applies to the charge. Then that information will be given to the bookkeeper who then will produce the accounts payable report. Every council member receives the accounts payable report completed by the Friday morning prior to the council meeting, and then a second report of the additional bills that come in after Friday in time for the Tuesday council meeting. One member of the finance committee comes in prior to the council meeting, reviews the receipts and how the department head has assigned the expenditure to the budget line item and, if everything is in order, then initials each item on the accounts payable sheet.
"This is part of the checks and balances. We have moved that responsibility from the finance person and put it with the department head. They now have a very straight forward need to track receipts better and faster. That is solving most of the issue just by itself," the mayor said.
The 2010 audit indicated that getting cash with a town debit card was "a likely problem," Schwieterman said. The town clerk is researching how to solve that potential problem.
Bank statements include all debit card charges. The bookkeeper will no longer open bank statements. The finance committee will do that. All the deposits and withdrawals will be reviewed by the finance committee before going to staff.
According to Colorado Bureau of Investigation agent Colin Reese, the investigation into alleged illegal use of town finances continues.blog comments powered by Disqus