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Moore: Commission ‘fixed’ county credit card abuses

Moving $1.2 million, a pledge to more closely audit county credit card purchases and requiring those abusing taxpayer expenditure allotments to reimburse from their own pockets were results of a Knox County Commission budget meeting.

Scott Moore, Commission chairman, said that following abuse of Knox County government credit card spending within Mayor Mike Ragsdale’s administration, “You’ve seen a commission that really took action. This afternoon we fixed all of those problems.”

Moore came directly from a June 14 Commission meeting and reported key minutes to members of Farragut Republican Club during its monthly meeting at Gondolier restaurant last Thursday.

“We had a miscellaneous fund in the proposed budget [$1.2 million], and we didn’t feel like any one individual ought to move one-point-two million dollars in taxpayer money by themselves,” Moore said. “We deleted that account. Nobody’s going to be allowed to charge meals or alcoholic beverages on a Knox County credit card.”

Called into question, according to Moore, are 13 “executive cards the administration had that had an open line that you could charge anything. All other [county] credit cards are limited.”

Otherwise, “There’s no problem that we could see with the other officeholders,” Moore said. “Of some 350 county credit cards, “only five or six of the thirteen [executive cards] had serious violations.” Of specific abuses, “most of it was restaurants.”

Sherry Witt, Register of Deeds, said she “didn’t even know those kind of credit cards even existed.”

Moore said the offending parties would reimburse all abused expense funds.

As for monitoring purchases, “Every thirty days our internal auditor will review all credit card purchases, make sure they’re in line … with policies of Knox County government," Moore said.

Knox County government credit receipts have been funneled to the county purchasing department, “which is run by the county mayor,” Moore said. “The problem is, these people in the county purchasing department answer to the county mayor. So as they were seeing charges that probably should have been flagged, they were being told to override by the administration, that’s their bosses.”

Concerning cooperation in attempt to uncover evidence, “It took like two weeks after we started requesting stuff to get things from the administration,” Moore said. “I think they knew what was going on, and they were kinda hesitant to give it to us.”

Though some GOP club members raised questions about overly expensive “Tahoes” and “Explorers,” Moore said the county’s existing fleet would stay intact.

As for how these vehicles passed Commission budget overview, Moore said only a “dollar amount” was budgeted for vehicles, to be spent by the administration as it chose. The chairman added the average county vehicle costs between $20,000 and $25,000.

Moore said the commission has requested further investigation.

“We’ve asked the mayor to go in front of the ethics panel,” Moore said. “He has agreed to go in there and answer questions,” adding other administration officials also will be called.


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