Augusta commissioners approve credit card policy

Published: Jul. 20, 2021 at 5:22 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Augusta commissioners voted Tuesday to approve a new credit card policy that will go into effect immediately with training for the cardholders starting next week.

But today’s discussion over audits got pretty heated between commissioners and the mayor.

Five years ago, ago the state of Georgia sent guidance to local governments requiring they enact a policy to oversee city credit card use. Augusta never adopted this policy.

Until now.

The new policy adds a spending limit, requirements on the use of cards and an overseer of card use.

Commissioners passed the policy today with two amendments.

First, they designated the city administrator and his office as the card administrator to manage card spending and policy compliance as well as issue cards to elected officials.

The second amendment removed “commissioners” as potential cardholders.

The commissioners’ card is currently held by the clerk of commission, not individual commissioners, and they want to keep it that way.

As that conversation ended a back-and-forth on audits began.

John Clarke, commissioner for District 10, said he and Commissioner Catherine McKnight “once again” were requesting a forensic audit.

And once again, that request failed. But not without debate.

During the discussion, Commissioner Brandon Garrett asked the mayor about his request for an audit of his credit cards.

Mayor Hardie Davis Jr. said: “An audit is underway as governed by the finance director who’s overseeing that right now.”

Garrett: Do we have a timeline for that?

Davis: “It’s on the way.”

The audit talks started when News 12′s I-Team found Davis charged nearly $30,000 to his cards last year.

In February and April, he spent over $8,000, but his spending in may dropped to just $165 after we interviewed him about his spending.

Commissioner Ben Hasan called the request for the forensic audit of all departments “scapegoating.” And suggested Clarke and McKnight really want an audit of the Mayor’s office.

“There’s been no corruption in this government per-se, you had one credit card that been under fire, and that’s been yours Mr. Mayor. My collogues have choose to take, what I think, is the easy way out instead of asking for a forensic audit of your cards, they want to indict the whole government and I think that’s a disservice.”

Also in the news ...

  • Augusta commissioners have agreed to receive more than 150 emergency housing vouchers from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. These vouchers help house local families who are on the verge of homelessness. The city first received 61 vouchers, although officials said they were having a hard time finding landlords who accept them. Now they’ve agreed to receive 155 more and say they’re still looking for landlords to help out.
  • Also out of the Augusta Commission, there’s progress on the new James Brown Arena. City leaders passed a request from the Coliseum Authority for an additional $15 million worth of funding for the project. They’re now expected to get that money in the next three weeks. They also passed a bond referendum the public will vote on in November that asks the city to issue up to $240 million in bonds to finish the arena. That means the fate of the new arena could now depend on your vote in November.

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