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Glendale employees get fewer credit cards

Officials reduce the number of workers who can charge business expenses.

November 24, 2012|By Brittany Levine,

The number of credit cards held by municipal employees has dropped about30% as the amount of charges being billed has fallen even more, according to a recent city report.

For the first quarter of 2012-13, the number of so-called procurement cards held by city employees was down to 191, compared to 277 last year, the report shows.

Meanwhile, employees racked up $1.9 million in charges in fiscal year 2011-12 — or about half of what was billed in 2009.


And if charges don't stray far from the $373,540 spent between July and September, Glendale is on track to get a smaller overall credit card bill at year's end.

“That's the goal. We want to make sure that we're buying only that which we need at the very lowest price,” said City Manager Scott Ochoa.

Credit card holders range from department heads to lower-level workers. While office supplies and hardware goods are frequent charges, so are food purchases at grocery stores and meals at restaurants, according to a review of thousands of credit card charges between July 2009 and April 2011.

For example, former City Manager Jim Starbird charged $230.29 — $23.80 of it on flat water — in July 2009 after lunching with Americana at Brand developer Rick Caruso and three others at Trattoria Amici, a fine dining restaurant.

In December 2009, Public Works Director Steve Zurn spent $204.17 on a holiday lunch featuring pecan crusted catfish and glasses of merlot at the Cheesecake Factory for Traffic and Parking Commission members.

In March 2011, Libraries Director Cindy Cleary spent $148.97 over two days of lunch-time Arnold Palmers and salads at BJ's Restaurant, each noted as budget meetings in city records.

City officials are allowed to use their credit cards for food when it's part of the normal course of business, but there is no organization-wide policy on paying for food. Rather, that's done department-by-department and based on individual budgets.

And business lunches are the exception, not the rule, said Asst. City Manager Yasmin Beers.

The bigger issues with credit cards arise when employees purchase products that may already be in storage or buy items or services piecemeal, rather than in bulk at a cheaper price.

City officials used their credit cards the most at vendors such as the Home Depot,, Southwest Airlines and Smart & Final in 2010, according to a city report.

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