of air and praying that our heart will stop racing. "It's only a dream,"
we tell ourselves. "It could never happen here."
Based on built-in city safeguards and general accountability, most of
it probably couldn't. But thanks to a new city policy, the credit card
part of the fever dream is real.
With the new year, city of Glendale employees -- we don't know exactly
how many, just yet -- will get to use credit cards to make city
purchases. The cards will have $1,000 per day and $5,000 per month
spending limits, and what they can be used for also will be restricted,
city officials said.
The idea behind the cards is a practical one: bookkeeping. It's easier
on both the city and its vendors to pay for purchases with a credit card,
then simply pay off the credit bill at the end of the month, than it is
to cut several checks for different vendors each month.
That makes good sense, as long as the credit card charges don't carry
over into a second month or get paid late, in which case those nasty --
and often punishingly high -- finance charges come into play. We trust
the city won't let it come to that.
Too, we assume only the most responsible and trusted of city employees
will be in possession of such cards. It's hard to see how more than a
handful of folks would need them, anyway, since it can't be all that many
employees who are empowered to make independent spending decisions.
We also would encourage the city to ask for line-item credit card
billing statements. A typical credit-card bill contains only a general
description of purchases, e.g., "Borders Books, Glendale, $49.95." But
specific descriptions can be obtained by request, and for
accountability's sake, the city should ask for them.
So enjoy your fantastic plastic, city employees! But remember who pays