County wades through spending policies, discrepancies
Concerns about spending prompted a Board of County Commissioners workshop with county employees to clarify policies and encourage transparency.
At the workshop, the board discussed employee travel, prepaid cards, jail transport cards, fleet vehicle use, the K9 program and policy enforcement to identify inconsistencies and stymie ambiguity.
“We all were aware of some things in the vouchers that brought some of it about,” Commissioner Merrit Linke explained. “We’ve heard from citizens that brought some of it about, and there was a comment from a department head.”
County employees are often given prepaid cards when they travel for work with a set amount of money for meals each day of the trip. The current rate is $69 per day. Recently, the Grand County Sheriff’s Office also switched to prepaid cards for jail transports, which the officers can use for meals or incidentals during the transport.
One thread that continued throughout the discussion is the need to ensure accountability for all purchases.
“We need to make sure that the tax dollars are spent according to our policies and wisely,” said Commissioner Kris Manguso.
Kelly Oxley, administrative assistant for the sheriff’s office, noted that any purchases made during a jail transport must have an accompanying receipt so everything is accounted for.
Another example brought up at the workshop was what constitutes reasonable employee appreciation spending.
Per the county’s rules, certain items are not allowed to be purchased with county money, such as flowers, but different interpretations of what is appropriate has led to confusion in the past, said Manguso.
“It doesn’t happen much … and sometimes it’s a misunderstanding,” she said. “This is tax dollars, so we’ve got to respect it.”
County employees explained to the commissioners the importance of employee appreciation within their offices and came to a compromise about how to handle spending. During budget talks, the commissioners and the department heads will come to an agreement about total employee appreciation funding for the year and then each department will maintain control over spending.
Another policy discussed at the workshop is the use of county vehicles in different departments, specifically those where employees drive the vehicles home, such as the sheriff’s office and the road and bridge department.
Currently, the policy is that county vehicles shouldn’t be used for personal use. However, because some personal use is necessary depending on the job, other guidelines were discussed, such as not allowing non-county employees in the vehicles and not leaving the county in the vehicles.
Ultimately, only one clarification will become policy soon, which is a requirement that county employees not request travel advances more than 30 days before a trip.
Manguso said the next time employee spending comes up will likely be during budget talks.
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