Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Knox Schools ending credit card use

Knox County Schools is doing away with the six credits that it had previously assigned to top-ranking officials and will participate solely in the county's electronic purchase card, or e-card,  program and travel card system.

The move comes after officials fired Roger Underwood, the KCS accounts payable supervisor, for misusing his school-issued card, and a WBIR 10News investigation that detailed how the cards were rarely paid on time.

State and local officials are investigating Underwood.

The Knox County Audit Committee also called a special meeting for Nov. 10 to talk about the system’s credit card use.

The county, unlike the school system, does not use credit cards. Instead it allows some officials to charge goods and services under its "electronic commerce card program."

Many department heads and managers are assigned e-cards issued by SunTrust that look like credit cards, but don't accrue interest and restrict what gets charged.

The program also stores images and receipts electronically, so the county can easily put them on its website.

The e-cards also come with a rebate program. Since 2011, the county has received roughly $1.5 million through the program, according to finance records.

The school system also participates in the e-card plan, but still has credit cards.

A WBIR analysis of one year’s worth of credit card invoices and check requests discovered:
  • The Knox County school system in the past year did not pay its credit cards on time, nor did it pay off the full balance, leaving taxpayers on the hook for late fees and finance charges.
  • In addition, the school system is still months behind on its current credit card payments, according to finance records secured by WBIR 10 News under the state open records act.
  • School officials who use the cards often pay sales taxes that government entities are exempt from paying.
  • Some credit card users also charge items that are not allowed.
  • And, the cards in some instances were used to make personal purchases, which employees would then reimburse – something that is against county policy.
Bob Thomas, assistant schools superintendent of administrative services, is currently working on a comprehensive plan tied to credit card and e-card use, school officials have said.

You can find our original story RIGHT HERE.

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