Wood, cities enrolled in purchase card program

PARKERSBURG – Many governmental entities are now using the West Virginia State Purchasing One Card Program, which returns 1 percent cash back on purchases made with the card.

Both Wood County, as well as the cities of Parkersburg and Vienna are enrolled in the program.

“Initially when the county joined the program, the clerk’s office was the pilot, and the card was used mainly for finance to pay bills. It helped avoid late fees for utility bills. Sometimes the payments were late because it would take 10 days or more for the turnaround, to get the bills reviewed, approved, signed off on and back to the finance office for payment,” said Wood County Clerk Mark Rhodes.

Now the county not only pays the bills on time, but has been averaging about $3,700 a quarter back from use of the card. Up to the third quarter of this year the county had received a total of $14,287 in rebates from the card purchases, according to state records.

Those funds go back into the general county budget, Rhodes said.

The city of Parkersburg joined the state purchasing card program several years ago. Parkersburg Mayor Robert Newell said the city no longer uses any standard credit cards, only the state’s purchasing One Card Program.

“One of the reasons we joined was because you get cash back from certain vendors, the vendors have to agree to participate. But we also use it to pay our fees at the Northwestern landfill, which is a large bill. We use it for large purchases,” Newell said.

The funds rebated to the city go back into the department or the general budget. The city receives between $2,100-$2,300 back each quarter for the 1 percent return.

The Purchasing One Card Program was first implemented in 1996 by State Auditor Glen B. Gainer III. State officials said the statewide credit card program reduces paperwork, creates more accountability for purchases, provides rebates to program participants and faster payments to vendors.

According to the auditor’s office, under the state purchasing card program, for fiscal year 2012, under state institutions there were a total of 668,347 transactions for a total of $464,443,502.10. The average per transaction was $694.91. The local government purchasing card program for 2012 showed 85 municipalities, 33 boards of education, 48 commissions and 54 sanitary boards, utility boards, health departments, waste authorities, RESA and ambulance authorities with a total of 116,462 transactions totalling $51,075,046.33, with the average per transaction, $438.56.

According to the auditor’s office, from July of 2008 to June of 2014, the 276 entities with a total of 3,753 cards enrolled in the program received a total rebate of $2,968,910.

Purchasing cards are used by governmental entities throughout the state including boards of education and institutions like the West Virginia Department of Highways. According to the state auditor’s office, from March 2005 through June 2012, more than 28,900 cardholders, new purchasing card applicants, Spending Unit Coordinators and sub-coordinators successfully trained and completed the basic knowledge test for the program.

Wood County joined the program in 2008.

The county’s program is coordinated for the county through the clerk’s office. Rhodes said department heads have the cards with the prosecutor’s office, law enforcement, 911, the clerk, circuit clerk and Mid-Ohio Valley Community Corrections Day Report Center all using the purchasing card.

The county commission does still has a standard credit card which is kept in the county administrator’s office and signed out for use. Officials said it is sometimes used for travel, otherwise mostly for maintenance department purchases. There are county policies governing its use, a log is kept of who is using the card and for what and receipts are required, county officials said. Administrator’s office staff then check the receipts back with the credit card statements.

Rhodes said the cards do have different maximums on them.

Law enforcement is primarily for fuel, he said.

All the funds that come back to the county go into the general revenue fund, Rhodes said.

The clerk’s office coordinates, and there is a statement for each card.

“We receive a master statement. If someone uses the card to charge something, they have to provide receipts,” he said.

“Casto and Harris, where we purchase our election supplies, also accepts the purchasing card, that’s about $13,000 on the card,” Rhodes said, adding all of the rebate goes back to the general county budget.

Rhodes said the program is audited.

The city of Parkersburg’s cards are assigned to individuals in certain departments including the mayor’s office, fire department, clerk, finance as the purchasing agent for the city, police, code enforcement, sanitation, development, and public works. Newell said in some cases the card is used primarily for travel.

“It has worked very well for us. We use it for travel, it’s convenient to have a card available and it’s easier to track. There is also oversight by the state auditor’s office, so if even $1 is misused, it’s a felony, there is a very tight rein on it, so that’s always good to have. A lot of government entities in the state are using this program,” he said.

Newell said the city no longer has any standard forms of credit cards, they have converted completely to the state’s purchasing card program entirely.

Vienna Mayor Randy Rapp said Vienna also uses the purchasing card system and city officials have been very pleased with it thus far.

State auditor’s office officials said the Local Government Purchasing Card Program was established to bring all local government entities into a single purchasing card program and replace the various card types that existed across county and municipal governments. Under the legislation allowing creation of the program, the cards may not be used to obtain cash advances.