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City Looking at Implementing Purchasing Card System

City Council is looking at implementing a purchasing card system and eliminating the current agreement that uses credit cards. The purchasing card system has a contract limit of $625, 000, the current credit limit is $150, 000. Majority of purchasing is currently done through invoicing and house accounts and with this new system, the council agenda says they will be able to give each employee responsible with purchasing, a p-card.

The reason given for switching to p-cards in the City Council Agenda is increased accountability, security and efficiency of purchasing.

During the council meeting, Councillor Jonathan Torresan raised certain concerns he has with switching to the proposed system, mainly regarding internal controls.

“My reservations surrounding the p-cards are essentially that I don’t believe, from what I know of them, that the system of internal controls is as strong as a traditional purchases payable system.”

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He adds, “I realize that comes at a much higher cost to do the traditional system, so really all my concern is around whether we have the proper system of internal controls to make sure that we can have accountability and make sure everything is going the way it should be.”

Torresan goes on to say that Council needs to be sure these controls are in place and are safe before they go forward with the p-cards.

Mayor Gerald Aalbers says that along with the reduced costs that come with the current system and a streamlined purchasing process, the cards can be controlled better.

“A p-card can be directed to purchase fuel only, it can be directed for hardware or [other] categories and there is a much greater control over a procurement card than a credit card.”

Aalbers says he has seen the use of p-cards first hand and believe it works well.

“I also understand that we want to make sure that we’re very clear, very open to the community, that when we’re spending money that the accounting and its control are in place.”

The recommendation from Administration was for the City to approve the implementation of the purchasing card system. However, City Council voted for Administration to bring forward more information at a future council or Governance and Priorities Committee meeting. Councillor Michael Diachuk and Councillor Glenn Fagnan voted against this as they were in favour of implementing the proposed system.

“I just think they are the right system to go [to] and I certainly support the direction, I think eventually we’ll get there,” says Diachuk.

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“I’ve had previous business experience with it and they’ve always worked very well. People have to be accountable, it’s so great that you’re able to track individuals and allow them certain limitations on what they can and can’t use. So I think that a lot of larger companies, municipalities find the p-card is the only way to go and it just is much more efficient and it has some good safe guards,” says Fagnan.

Both councillors added that they understand the need for more information as not everyone has had past experience with p-cards that they have.

Aalbers says he believes that once more information is given the council will be able to move forward. The next GPC meeting is on August 30.

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