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Lack of quorum delays gas fill-ups

A lack of a quorum for the last two Orange County Commissioners Court in 2015 resulted in county employees gas cards being rejected for nonpayment on Thursday.

The court cancelled the Dec. 22 meeting due to the majority of court members out of town due to the Christmas holidays. The following week, Commissioner Pct. 3 John Banken was expected to attend but did not appear so the meeting was canceled that afternoon for a lack of a quorum.

Banken, on the phone, said he was unable to attend due to an illness.

County Auditor Mary Johnson said her office was made aware there was an issue with the gas cards sometime between 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. on Thursday and the issue was corrected by 2 p.m. the same day.

The account in question is due to court must approve the paying of bills which was not done in time for the account to receive payment in time.

“Because the Court did not meet on the 22nd we were forced to move all the invoices to the batch for December 29th,” Johnson said. “Had Commissioner’s Court met that day we would have been able to overnight the Shell payment and no purchases would have been declined.”

The gas card account has a 25-day billing cycle, instead of a 30-day cycle as many of the other county accounts.

With 30-40 employees using the cards, the invoice for the account can consist of as many as 30 pages with each line item needing verification. If a matching receipt has not been turned in at the time, the clerk must call the department head and request it.

“It can take eight hours to verify the invoice,” Johnson said.

Once verified, the accounting system can ‘close the batch’.

“Once we have all the invoice into the accounting system we “close the batch” for the week, typically on Thursday afternoon, or Friday morning. The Treasurer’s office than goes into the accounting system and electronically processes the batch, including printing of the checks,” Johnson said in an e-mail. “The printed checks are then returned to the Auditor’s office for my counter-signature and attachment of any necessary documents such as remittal slips.”

The checks are returned to the Treasurer’s office until Commissioner’s Court approves them.

On Tuesday, the court approved two batches estimated at $537,000 for paying of bills, including the gas card in question. Payment for that particular account was due by Dec. 31.

“I have spoken with our Purchasing Agent, to start investigating alternative methods of purchasing fuel,” Johnson said.