The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on April 22, 2001 · Page 4
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 4

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Salina, Kansas
Issue Date:
Sunday, April 22, 2001
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Page 4
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M SUNDAY, APRIL 22, 2001 THE SALINA JOURNAL Credit / School district limits card use FROM PAGE A1 "You don't want to have one person in charge of the whole stream of transactions," Ahlyers said. One person might open the mail and list the money taken in, another prepare and make the deposit, another record the payments and still another reconcile the bank accounts. • "On the bUl payment side, it's the same thing," Ahlvers said. "You don't want to have the same person doing the purchasing, approving the purchase, writing the check and recording the payment." In smaller districts with few employees, Ahlvers said the separation of duties can become difficult. He audits at least one district that has hired an outside agency to reconcile its bank account every month just for that reason. At Southeast of Saline School District, Ahlvers said. Superintendent Bob Goodwin opens the bank statements each month and looks at every disbursement, to provide oversight for bookkeepers. "If there's a manipulation, he should see it before the treasurer, the clerk," Ahlvers said. "It's someone outside the normal bookkeeping function." In the case of credit cards, Ahlvers said the bill for the credit card should be mailed to someone other than the person who regularly uses the card. Each charge should be accompanied by Retailed receipt. In the Salina School District, all credit statements go first to Moser. She looks over the statements, then sends them on to the people named on the cards. The statements are returned to her, with a receipt attached for each purchase. Administrators also approve the purchases. In the case of Salina Superintendent "Dennis (Kissinger) has no means of cutting a check. I cut all the checks." Valerie Gebhardt Salina city accountant, referring to the city manager Gary Norris, who carries an American Express card for district expenses, aU purchases must have the approval of Mike Soetaert, the district's director of business, or Marilyn Green, executive director of school improvement. Checks and balances A similar process is in effect at Salina city offices, where, through a program implemented this past fall, many city purchases are charged to Visa cards. The charge cards replace about 100 charge accoimts at Salina vendors. Through the program, cards were issued to each city department, and a custodian — usually a clerical staff member — was appointed in each to control the card. Each card is kept in a folder with a log that details who had the card, when it was used and what was pxirchased. Invoices also are kept in the folders. At the end of each month, the city finance department receives and briefly reviews each Visa bill before sending it to the department. Department personnel review the biU, the department supervisor approves each purchase, receipts are attached and the biU is returned to the finance department for payment. To ensure cards don't get in the wrong hands, Franz said, the cards have no signature on the back; instead. "Ask for City I.D." is printed on the signature line. "Some vendors ask, and some don't," Franz said. "It varies from vendor to vendor. But that is a way to ensure they're being used properly" Dennis Kissinger, city manager, and Mike Morgan, deputy city manager, carry American Express cards, and the city manager's office receives the monthly biUs. But Kissinger's office doesn't pay the biU. "Dennis has no means of cutting a check," said Valerie Gebhardt, the city's accoimtant. "I cut all the checks." Kissinger and Morgan, like other employees, also must attach receipts to the bills. City commissioners, who approve all bills incurred on behalf of the city, are the final check. That's the case, as well, with Saline Coimty and the county school districts. Rita Deister, interim county administrator, said county commissioners receive a detailed printout of bills payable each week, and just about every week, one of the three commissioners asks to see at least one receipt. "They're pretty thorough," Deister said. Department heads also must approve all credit card purchases before the bills are paid. At the .sheriff's department. Sheriff Glen Kochanowski reviews credit card bills and their accompanying receipts after they are looked over by other members of his staff Kochanowski carries a county credit card, as do his undersheriff and the department's three captains. Credit cards are checked out to transportation staff and detectives when they have to travel as part of their jobs. "They get receipts for everything," Kochanowski said. "Cards can't be "We can limit a card to a specific vendor for a specific trip." Sharese Moser Sailna School District accountant, describing the district's credit cards used for anything personal." Three times in his tenure, Kochanowski said a department employee accidentally used his county credit card for a personal expense — mistaking it for a personal credit card. "It was caught every time by our people, and they paid," he said. The Ell-Saline School District has only one Visa credit card, and Bernie White, superintendent, said it never leaves the office. It's primarily used for travel expenses. "We do reimbursements only on meals," White said. "And there's a $25 limit for all three meals." The only reason the district got a credit card was because many stores no longer accept purchase orders, and motels many times won't bUl the district for rooms. Restricted-use cards That also was the impetus for the Salina School District. But its credit cards aren't your everyday credit cards, "They're very restrictive," said Moser, the district's accountant. Moser explained that every vendor in the United States is assigned a four- digit code by the credit card company Some of the digits identify the type of business — such as a business that sells alcohol — and some of the digits pertain to that particular business. Using those codes, the school district can limit what can be purchased and from whom. Those limits can be permanent or last a specified amount of time. "We can limit a card to a specific vendor for a specific trip," Moser said. "We can say a card can be used only at the Wal-Mart store in Salina. We can be that restrictive." Audit doesn't cover all Yearly audits also are conducted of every governmental agency, but Ahlvers said those audits aren't perfect or all-encompassing. When Ahlvers audits a school district, he might pull a few bills as a representative sample and make sure receipts are attached. "Mainly, I'm just trying to ascertain if someone reviewed them," Ahlvers said. "I'm interested in notations showing the charge was investigated and determined to be valid." He's most interested in the process. "I can't look at every transaction," he said. "I look at the internal controls and spot-check the receipts and expenditures." In fact, when he contracts with a governmental agency he tells representatives up front the purpose of the audit is not to detect fraud. "If we discover it, we will obviously tell someone," he said, "but that's not our purpose. Our purpose, in general, is to determine if the financial statements that have been prepared accurately represent what happened in the past year." So whose responsibility is it to ferret out fraud? "It's up to the people involved in the process," Ahlvers said. "You have to rely on the integrity of the employees who are paying those bills." TNASA Space tourist will be allowed to fly By The Associated Press WASHINGTON — California tycoon Dennis Tito wiU be allowed to visit the International Space Station as a tourist despite concerns about his safety, a NASA official says. The space station's international partners are expected to meet Monday and sign an agreement to let the Russians deliver Tito to the orbiting lab for a one-week stay the official said Friday The visit is to be "an exception" and does not mean the space station is now open to receive tourists on a regular basis, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity Tito paid the Russians $20 million to ride aboard a Soyuz • spacecraft with a Russian crew scheduled to dock with the space station in May If he makes the flight, Tito will become the first person ever to buy his way into space. NASA spokesman Bob Jacobs acknowledged that space station managers were looking at the crew's work schedule for early May "to see what could be done if he does fly to make it safer." Jacobs insisted, however, that the international partners have not yet made a final decision to allow Tito on board. The international partners on the space station, called Alpha, are the United States, Russia, Canada, Japan and the European Space Agency NASA earlier expressed dismay that Russia had independently made a deal to fly Tito to the space station. Some NASA officials had asked that the tourist trip be deferred until October to allow for six to eight weeks of training they said was required to prepare the 60-year- old millionaire for the trip. • SURVEILLANCE FLIGHTS Buzzed airmen hope for clear rules Americans, Chinese take up cliallenge of exploring protocols By The Associated Press WASHINGTON — Aviators sometimes let the ragged edge of human nature get to them when surveillance planes and the jets dogging them come close. Up there, at 25,000 feet, it can be like road rage down here except it's surveillance planes and jets that are cutting off the other guy, crowding his lane, jarring him so much he spills his coffee, say veterans of these interceptions. "Too much testosterone and not enough good sense," is how Rep. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., a naval intelligence reservist who flew on surveillance missions over Serbia, sums up the problem. Washington and Moscow realized long ago something had to be done to keep encounters from getting out of hand. Now the Americans and Chinese are taking up that challenge in the aftermath of the collision between a Navy EP-3E plane and Chinese fighter. Chinese and U.S. officials are expected to meet within two weeks to explore "rules of the road," as such protocols in the air and at sea are known. U.S. surveillance airmen who have been buzzed by the competition say it should be fairly simple to work out rules with China for safe interceptions. "They should be able to do that sitting around a table in 30 minutes," said retired Navy pilot Ray Leonard of Centreville, Va., who flew intelligence missions drawing Soviet shadowers in the 1980s. Just agreeing on a set of hand signals between pUots would be SALINA HABITAT FOR HUMANITY •i TV IVIEWS SHOWS better than what exists now." "Usually it's a one-finger signal that goes on up there," Kirk said. U.S. and Chinese forces, however, do not have the years of experience dealing with each other that Washington and Moscow shared in the Cold War, and it took them several years then to strike their initial agreement. China, which has only recently begun to expand its air and naval reach, has been reluctant to do anything that would legitimize U.S. intelligence-gathering near its territory Don't miss out on these wonderful items and a great opportunity to help your community! All proceeds to benefit a Salina family in need of decent affordable housing. ;i„ • Playhouse • Outdoor Furniture • Birdhouses • Sculptures • Paintings • Pots • Hanging Quilts • Decorative Lawn Sprinkler • Wreaths • Bicycle • Yard Sculpture by Dick Bergen • Rustic UtOity Shed, • Dog House • Garden Installation by Courtyard Creations • Baskets of Flowers •Boom Divgjder • Many Unusual Items! , V » \, Lineup for the Sunday TV news shows: ABC's "This Week" — Interior Secretary Gale Norton; Sen. John Kerry, D-IVIass. CBS's "Face the Nation" — Christie Whitman, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency; Sen. Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn. NBC's "(Meet the Press" — Christie Whitman, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency; Gov. Gary Johnson of New Mexico; Barry McCaffrey, former director of national drug-control policy; Michael Deaver, former President Reagan's deputy chief of staff; Hamilton Jordan, former President Carter's chief of staff. CNN's "Late Edition" — Interior Secretary Gale Norton; John Podesta, former chief of staff to President Clinton; Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah; Sen. Bob Graham, D-Fla.; former Labor Secretary Robert Reich; Jack Kemp, co-director of Empower America. "Fox News Sunday" — Commerce Secretary Don Evans; consumer advocate Ralph Nader; Meryll Tisch, member of the New York Board of Regents; Lee Stiff, PENTAX president of the National Council of Mathematics Teachers. 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