State

Kane County coroner's credit card use sparks discussion

GENEVA – Kane County Board members on Wednesday called for an evaluation of the county’s credit card policy in light of recent activity by Coroner Rob Russell.

Russell was affected by a resolution the County Board approved in July that authorized the auditor to withhold approval for payment by the treasurer with any contracts, invoices or other claims projected to exceed a department’s or office’s budget.

He is working with the County Board to get nearly $5,000 of the $11,000 in unpaid bills paid – the Finance and Budget Committee supported such a measure Wednesday – but used his county-issued credit card for the remaining $6,000, officials said.

“This was making sure that people got paid,” Russell said, adding it is unfair to put vendors in the middle. “We’ve never abused it.”

Board members were upset Russell avoided the standard approval process for promotional items.

“He knew that these purchases had not yet been approved,” County Board Chairman Chris Lauzen said as he showed the committee Russell’s procurement card agreement.

According to the document, Russell agreed to use the P-card for county-approved purchases only. It also indicated that his right to use the card may be terminated for any reason.

Theresa Barreiro, D-Aurora, suggested the committee evaluate the county’s P-card policy and the limits allowed for each cardholder.

“I feel $25,000 is way too much,” she said of Russell’s monthly limit.

Auditor Terry Hunt said that would be a “worthwhile exercise” to go through.

“P-cards are a good thing,” he said, explaining they are needed for online purchases and can be used to get better rates. “They just have to be carefully monitored.”

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