After his administration reviewed how government-issued credit cards are used in the city, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced plans to drastically cut the amount of plastic being swiped by employees of city agencies.
While some 500 credit cards have previously been in circulation among the city's government agencies, that number will now be cut to just 30, to be distributed evenly between the Chicago Transit Authority, Chicago Housing Authority, Chicago Park District, Chicago Public Schools, City Colleges and the Public Building Commission, the Chicago Sun-Times reports.
Also, the cards' use will now be limited to only top executives, whose spending will be made public on a monthly basis. Petty cash funds will be cut entirely and gifts, flowers, car washes, parking or red light tickets and refreshments for holiday parties or birthdays will also restricted under Emanuel's new policy.
"As public servants, we are employed by the people of Chicago, and misuse of their hard-earned tax dollars will not be tolerated," Emanuel said of the new policies in a statement. "The City of Chicago must be a judicious steward of these funds, and I commend the Comptroller for his swift and thorough review of the city's reimbursement policies and ask all department and agency leadership to implement these new policy guidelines immediately."
The move comes after City Comptroller Amer Ahmad discovered some questionable charges to agency cards. The charges, as reported by Greg Hinz at Crain's, include $21,000 for an "executive coaching" session, $1,098 for a group dinner in Reno, Nev., $5,000 for an "appreciation event" and $34,000 in fuel costs, though the city has its own, separate contract covering gasoline expenses. Ahmad would not disclose which agencies were responsible for those charges.
Last month, former CHA head Lewis Jordan, one of the top remaining holdovers from former Mayor Daley's administration, resigned from his position after a Better Government Association/FOX Chicago investigation uncovered he and his department had misused city credit cards for gift cards, flowers, red light camera tickets and even a United Center suite.