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District 150 may seek sales tax refunds

Published: Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2013 10:48 a.m. CDT

PEORIA (MCT) — District 150 administrators may try to get refunds on sales taxes inadvertently paid for district purchases. But the district's assistant comptroller says it's not clear how often district employees actually paid taxes on tax-exempt purchases.

District 150 should never pay sales taxes, Mike McKenzie, the assistant comptroller, told board members. Employees have also been reminded not to pay taxes on district purchases. Otherwise, he did not find anything illegal in employees' use of the purchasing cards, similar to credit cards.

That may not be enough to stem critics who have called for an independent investigation of expenditures on the district's purchasing cards.

McKenzie and District 150 budget analyst Carla Eman explained procedures for the purchasing cards, similar to credit cards, in response to weeks of questions and criticism prompted by retired teacher Sharon Crews' Freedom of Information Act request of purchases made on District 150 Superintendent Grenita Lathan's card.

The district's regular meeting was Tuesday instead of Monday because of Columbus Day. McKenzie and Eman review all transactions on purchasing cards monthly, then they're submitted to the board for review. Transactions also will be reviewed by an auditor during the annual audit.

"Actually, this purchasing card procedure has cleaned things up in the district," said board member Debbie Wolfmeyer.

Fifty-eight purchasing cards are in use throughout the district by administrators, principals, athletic directors and others, as approved by Lathan. The system permits the district to easily ban cash advances or payments to certain merchant categories, such as gambling establishments. McKenzie said he has banned the cards' use for several hundred merchant codes.

The purchasing cards are more flexible than purchasing orders, which still are in use. District 150 no longer has a purchasing department.

Purchase-card purchases totaled about $90,000, or 3.5 percent of all district purchases for the month of August.

(c)2013 the Journal Star (Peoria, Ill.) Distributed by MCT Information Services

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