CANTON: The city’s economic development arm has canceled a credit card issued in its name without its authorization.
Friday’s unanimous decision by five members of the Canton Community Improvement Corp. followed disclosure that Mayor William J. Healy II had used the card for 16 personal purchases totaling $567.42.
Healy, who applied for the credit card, has since reimbursed the agency for the full amount, plus a $39 late fee. He serves as the organization’s chairman.
“I don’t think it’s necessary for us to have a credit card,” said board member Robert Thompson Sr. “Every penny that is expended by this board needs to be authorized by us.”
He said employees should either seek prior approval for spending or seek reimbursement after using their own credit cards.
“The authority for every penny that’s spent by the CCIC rests solely with the board, not with the staff or individual board members,” said Thomas Burns, an assistant city law director who investigated the issue.
“So the board might have occasion to choose to grant some spending authority to staff or to an individual member, but that would only come after discussion in an open public meeting.
“So the authority for obtaining credit cards rests solely with the board. [It] doesn’t rest with the staff or individual members. And, of course, none of this was done in this case.”
Healy was unavailable Friday to explain how he mistakenly used the card for personal purchases. He did not respond to an email message sent at midday Friday.
The mayor excused himself from Friday’s meeting, as did his appointee, Service Director Warren Price.
Many of the personal transactions were made outside the city at businesses in nearby Jackson Township, including Dillard’s, Macy’s and the Tilted Kilt.
The issue has been reviewed by both a state agency and a federal agency, according to Law Director Joseph Martuccio. Both declined to take the case. A third outside entity might review the facts, he said.
In addition to the issue of the mayor’s personal purchases, board members learned Friday the credit card had been used to pay $700 in registration fees for four people to attend an upcoming conference.
One employee who was to attend has since resigned.
Members approved the expenditure. Thompson noted that the money could not be refunded.
He cited the discomfort in being asked to approve an expenditure after the fact as one reason to cancel the credit card.
Fellow board member Donald Peterson said the agency had functioned for some 25 years without a card.
The Community Improvement Corp. is supported by a share of the city’s federal Community Development Block Grant.
Nancy Molnar can be reached at email@example.com.