Audit: No illegalities in county’s credit card charges

Laurens County Administrator Jon Caime said Tuesday an audit of credit card usage by county employees uncovered no evidence of fraud, but the county will be revising some of its spending policies and procedures.

Caime was to present a report on the audit to the Laurens County Council Tuesday at its regular meeting.

Questions concerning spending on county credit cards by employees were raised several months ago by a group of citizens, who found what they believed to be abnormalities after requesting documents through the state’s Freedom of Information Act.

“Basically, no evidence of any fraud was found,” Caime said. “We found that some of our paperwork can use some improvement, so we’re going to revise some our procedures for travel and for gas cards, but of the 144 questionable charges found, on the vast majority of them, some of the paperwork or something was missing, but there was no evidence of fraud.”

The citizens asking for a closer look into the purchases also brought up multiple trips by employees to resort areas that concerned them, and Caime indicated that employees will be urged to more carefully consider travel in the future.

Caime said the audit determined the travel expenses were handled correctly, still employees will be asked to be more selective when it comes to work travel when trips are optional.

“Organizations hold these events at attractive places so people will go, so that’s why there are trips to Hilton Head or Myrtle Beach,” Caime said. “Maybe a business meeting should be in Columbia, but that’s not the way they do these sorts of things because they want people to come.”

Employees or Constitutional officers going on trips are required to include an agenda of the event they are attending for validation, and Caime said future trips will only be paid for by the county if all the necessary paperwork, including the agendas, is included.

Caime said he expects council members to consider posting credit card statements online, a proposal brought before council several months ago, but has been “on the back burner” since moving to committee for study and a recommendation.

“It’s a way to be transparent – and we want to be transparent. It’s for the public trust,” he said. “The public can look at it and say, ‘It’s all right here, they’re not hiding anything,” and it can give our employees pause before they swipe that card.”

Councilman Stewart Jones made a motion to move forward with putting credit card statements online immediately but the motion died due to lack of a second. County Council Chairman Joe Wood referred the matter to committee, which will discuss the matter prior to council’s next regular meeting.

 

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