Article posted: 12/13/2013 5:00 AM

District 46 hikes employee card spending limit

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Grayslake Elementary District 46 board members have authorized a significant boost in the monthly spending limit for procurement cards, which had been a source of debate in the past.

Commonly known as p-cards, the program is a way for employees to pay for business-related expenses. Many governments issue what's similar to a debit card to the employees, who often have varying spending limits.

At a meeting Wednesday evening, the District 46 board voted 5-1 in favor of increasing the p-card spending limit by $100,000. Board member Kip Evans, who has previously questioned the p-card use, was the lone dissenter in pushing the monthly cap from $150,000 to $250,000.

"Why are we jumping so high?" Evans asked Acting Chief School Business Official Chris Bobek.

Bobek said cashback rewards offered by BMO Harris Bank will make the district's increased p-card use worthwhile. He said rather than issuing checks, the cards are suitable for regular monthly bills or for maintenance and operations expenses.

"The end result is us trying to get back money from the agreement that we have for the procurement card program," Bobek said. "So if we increase the use, we raise the return to the district."

Evans and former board members Shannon Smigielski and Michael Carbone raised questions about the p-cards in 2011 but did not claim they were misused.

Smigielski and Carbone contended there were too many meal expenditures and a lack of documentation for many of the charges in the 2009-10 academic season when the program started.

In 2011, the Better Government Association and the Daily Herald examined more than 3,000 pages of documents of employee card use and found a pattern of murky or nonexistent spending justification and a lack of itemized receipts for a wide range of purchases.

Since then, the district has been posting p-card documents on its website with information including purchase date, company, description, whether a receipt was received, transaction amount and who granted approval.

Twitter: @DHBobSusnjara

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