Laurens Co. employees’ credit card use questioned

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LAURENS Co., SC (WSPA) – An Upstate county wants to tighten up rules for employee workers using credit cards. 

Laurens County leaders conducted an internal review that was prompted by citizens and heard a report during Tuesday’s council meeting. 

“Somebody needs to care,” said Brenda Stewart, a resident who said she got the county’s credit card information through a Freedom of Information Act request. “We need to be good stewards of the taxpayer’s money.”

Charges by county employees include a medieval times dinner theater and a charge at the Spanish Galleon Dance Club in Myrtle Beach, all paid for with Laurens County tax dollars with the swipe of an employee credit card. 

“Not something I think we should be paying for,” Stewart said. 

At council’s request, county leaders conducted an internal review. 

“No evidence of outright fraud,” said County Administrator Jon Caime, adding there were problems with how the cards were handled. “A lot of our paperwork is sloppy.”

Councilman Stewart Jones made a motion to post the credit card purchases online, but no other council members seconded the motion, causing it to fail. 

“I think if these p-card statements and the check registers are posted monthly online, that’s going to bring a lot more transparency,” Jones said. 

Caime said that policy could have benefits, but people filing Freedom of Information requests is just one possible challenge of online records.

“The biggest concern we have from the administration side is purchases being taken out of context,” said Caime. 

For instance, Caime said the medieval dinner was work related. 

“It was some kind of association event that they went to. They actually used a three dollar off coupon so we do know that,” he said. “But it still was a $60 meal. Maybe a $60 meal is not an appropriate use of taxpayer dollars.” 

Like Stewart, he suggests the county review its policies. 

“Hope people can be more careful and thoughtful when they use taxpayer money,” said Stewart. 

One of the citizen concerns was the number of credit cards. There were 101 but the county has since reduced the number of credit cards to 81.

Caime said the county should revise its travel policy, and suggests there be a cap on meal costs. 

County leaders hope to discuss proposed changes at a sub-committee meeting before the next council meeting.

The next meeting is set for Tuesday, Oct. 9. 

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