Sonoma County auditors to target employee credit card use
News from Santa Rosa Press Democrat:

Published: Friday, February 1, 2013 at 3:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, February 1, 2013 at 9:22 p.m.

The plan includes a call for improved “internal controls” on who gets county-issued credit cards and how they are used.

It also spells out existing and new checks to detect when the use is improper, and when they are detected, steps to make sure taxpayers are reimbursed.

The plan comes before the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, five days after county officials responded to a Press Democrat public information request by turning over records for 344 cardholders and 20,000 county credit card transactions in the past two years.

They show a total of nearly $ 4.4 million on charges for services and supplies, travel, lodging, meals and other goods, all ostensibly for the purpose of county business.

The spending, which in 2011 and 2012 represented 0.3 percent of the county’s annual $ 1.2 billion budget, nevertheless has come under scrutiny amid heightened tension over cuts to county services. Divisions over pay and benefits between rank-and-file employees — few of whom have county cards — and elected officials and managers have also fueled interest in the credit receipts.

The bills range from $ 2,500 for government retreats, public meetings and mapping software to office supply and parking purchases of less than a doll…………… continues on Santa Rosa Press Democrat

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Drug use and debt: A credit card for recovering addicts
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For some people, clear limits and boundaries are required to get control over bad financial behavior.  That was the case for Ryan Jaffe.  He’s a recovering alcoholic and co-founder of the Next Step Prepaid Master Card.  It’s designed for former substance abusers and marketed as a way to curb excessive spending during the recovery process.   Co-signers on the card — often a parent or rehab sponsor — can choose daily spending limits for the cardholder and limit the number of transactions per month. In short, the card will keep the holder’s financial habits on a very short leash and allow people in recovery to spend their money in a healthy manner, says Ryan Jaffe, one of the co-founders of the Next Step Prepaid MasterCard.

What issues do a recovering addict face?

“Whether it be drugs or gambling or alcohol — that was a way to cope with life. And then you remove that from the equation and then someone’s getting sober and now you have a scenario where they’re trying to fill their void with other things and a lot of times it comes in the form of spending,” says Jaffe.  

The card is intended to address the situation of a person in recovery, but Jaffe says it isn’t a long-term solution. It’s meant to help addicts in t…………… continues on

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