Sonoma County auditors to target employee credit card use

The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors next week is set to authorize an internal audit and tighter oversight of employee credit card use, a move prompted in part by recent public records requests by The Press Democrat.

The plan includes a call for improved "internal controls" on who gets county-issued credit cards and how they are used.

It also spells out existing and new checks to detect when the use is improper, and when they are detected, steps to make sure taxpayers are reimbursed.

The plan comes before the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, five days after county officials responded to a Press Democrat public information request by turning over records for 344 cardholders and 20,000 county credit card transactions in the past two years.

They show a total of nearly $4.4 million on charges for services and supplies, travel, lodging, meals and other goods, all ostensibly for the purpose of county business.

(Search Search Sonoma County employee credit card charges <a href="http://www.pressdemocrat.com/article/99999999/MULTIMEDIA/130209934/1350">here.</a>)

The spending, which in 2011 and 2012 represented 0.3 percent of the county's annual $1.2 billion budget, nevertheless has come under scrutiny amid heightened tension over cuts to county services. Divisions over pay and benefits between rank-and-file employees — few of whom have county cards — and elected officials and managers have also fueled interest in the credit receipts.

The bills range from $2,500 for government retreats, public meetings and mapping software to office supply and parking purchases of less than a dollar.

Spending among individuals topped out at $182,700, the amount charged by a county Water Agency engineer responsible for information technology purchases for his office.

County department heads and managers in Human Services, the pension system, the Water Agency and the airport occupied other slots among the top 30 spenders, all of whom spent at least<NO1><NO> $35,000. Many of the top 10 held jobs that involved purchasing responsibilities.

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