Purchasing cards are used sparingly in Spring Hill, according to finance director Melanie Landis. The cards look like credit or debit cards but function differently.
Designed for use by government entities, the cards can be used to make purchases anywhere credit cards are accepted. Like a credit card, purchases made with the cards can be rejected. Like debit cards, purchases don’t accrue interest. They’re paid off each month and carry monthly limits.
Only department heads and a few supervisors have purchasing cards in Spring Hill.
“We truly don’t use ours all of the time,” Landis said. “For traveling we have to, and in order to avoid someone having to use their personal cards.”
Typically, Landis said the cards are used for purchases that must be made out of town. For basic purchases, city officials use local store accounts. But, that can’t always be done.
For example, if the pool needs a specific part, there isn’t a store in Spring Hill that sells pool equipment.
In Edgerton, most city purchases are also made using store accounts. None of the city’s staff has a purchasing card, but two employees, Mike Mabrey, city superintendent, and Beth Linn, city administrator, have credit cards.
Linn said the pair use credit cards rather than purchasing cards, because Metcalf Bank, the city’s bank of choice, doesn’t offer a purchasing card program.
The use of credit cards is new for Edgerton employees.
Mabrey just received his city credit card last week.
He can count on one hand the number of times he’s pulled out city plastic to make a purchase.
“I’ve only made two purchases so far,” Mabrey said.
He charged $120 to the card at Winn Electric.
“It was for electrical supplies at an electric place that we don’t have an account at,” he said.
The other charge, for $4, ended up on the card after a check to the Department of Motor Vehicles was $4 less than the charge.
“The actual cost was more that what they quoted us for tags for our new dump truck,” Mabrey said.
With a limit of $1,000, the card limit mirrors the amount of money he is allowed to spend without administrative approval. Linn’s card limit is $15,000, the amount she is authorized to spend without the approval of city council.
Landis said Spring Hill’s purchase cards have limits less than what each official is allowed to spend without council or administrative approval.
“All of our department heads have limits of what they can spend. They just have card limits up to $2,000 which isn’t even their full spending authority,” Landis said.
In total, Spring Hill city staff have a credit limit of $20,000, and in a typical month, employees charge between $5,000 and $6,000. The cards are paid off in full each month.
“There are quite a few controls and advantages to using those purchasing cards,” Landis said.
Although city officials primarily shop local and use store accounts, the purchasing cards allow one invoice rather than several from a variety of places.
“Purchasing cards do not incur interest or late fees for a government agency and are sometimes the best option for purchasing at stores that will not provide a house account option or for travel when a card is required to make reservations,” Landis said.
Edgerton, SH rely on store accounts