News Column

Lockport supervisor explains credit card controls

July 3, 2014

By Thomas Prohaska, The Buffalo News, N.Y.



July 03--LOCKPORT -- The approval of a new credit card contract gave Town Supervisor Marc R. Smith an opportunity to explain the town's controls on credit card spending at Wednesday's Town Board meeting.

Town Attorney Michael J. Norris said the board was asked by Key Bank to approve a new credit card certification regarding cash advances and balance transfers. Smith said it was only a formality, since the town is blocked from using either of those features.

"A number of years ago, the town did away with credit cards with open balances," Smith said. It now uses what Smith calls "zero-balance" cards.

"Somebody has to call my office and get authorization. The card is worthless before that," Smith said.

Smith said the system allows him to place a spending limit on a card and also to specify at which store the allocation may be spent.

"We found it to be a very efficient way of controlling the use of credit cards. We take the use of the public's money very seriously," Smith said.

The measures stand in contrast to the neighboring City of Lockport, where Mayor Anne E. McCaffrey ordered credit cards destroyed when she succeeded Michael W. Tucker in February. Tucker and City Treasurer Michael E. White held the credit cards and if they felt it appropriate, gave them to other city officials for their use.

Former Youth and Recreation Director Melissa I. Junke ran up charges of more than $9,000 last year for a golf tournament sponsored by a restaurant run by her brother, with the biggest tab being the cost of flying in six former pro football players and some of their significant others to attend the event, which was supposed to raise money for her department but which lost money.

Meanwhile, the Town Board awarded several contracts for major public works projects Wednesday.

Scott Lawn Yard of Sanborn was low bidder for installation of new sidewalks on Shimer Drive and Locust Street Extension, at a price of $319,109.

Walmart had put $250,000 in escrow for those sidewalks as a condition of a special-use permit for its new store, now under construction at the former Lockport Mall site, which borders on Shimer Drive. The town will pay the remaining $69,109 cost.

Mar-Wal Construction Co. of Depew was the lowest of three bids for new waterlines on Shimer Drive, at $252,214. Councilman Paul W. Siejak said that was $28,000 under budget.

Cameron Bridge Works of Elmira was low bidder for a pedestrian bridge over Donner Creek as part of the Robinson Road sidewalk project, which is otherwise being paid for by the state Department of Transportation. The bridge will cost $46,444, which is about $29,000 under budget, Siejak said.

Scott Lawn Yard also is to receive the contract to construct the "Pathway of Honor," a brick path in Day Road Park, for $25,900.

Councilwoman Patricia Dufour said engraving prices have yet to be determined, but an order form for bricks will be published in the town's fall newsletter.

"It is a pathway of honor, not necessarily a memorial pathway," Dufour said. She added that replacements have been ordered for some memorial trees in the park that died.

email: tprohaska@buffnews.com

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