Credit Card Controversy

A credit card is causing a big controversy with Lauderdale County's board of supervisors.

"Would you answer this Mr. County Administrator, are there any charges on that credit card that are personal charges, not county related?" asked District 5 supervisor Ray Boswell.

District 4 supervisor Joe Norwood's immediate response to the question was, ''I can tell you that. No!'

That's the exchange which ultimately led to a motion by Boswell to discontinue personal county credit cards for supervisors. Boswell accused Norwood of misusing his county-issued card.

"Have you got a credit where gas was purchased by the District 4 supervisor in north Alabama?" asked Boswell.

"Not in north Alabama but in Alabama,' said Lauderdale County administrator Mike Sumrall.

"I was on program at the World Conference of Mayors. If any of you all want to see that, I bought a tank of gas in Short, Ala., in my Crown Victoria and here are my records," said Norwood.

Norwood said he always repays the county for expenses that are not covered.

According to Sumrall there are currently more than $300 worth of charges on Norwood's credit card that are not covered by the county. Norwood said at least a portion of that was spent on a hotel room during an event for supervisors in north Mississippi. He says prior to this meeting, he was not aware that the county would not cover that cost. Norwood went on to call Boswell's concerns 'bogus.'

"The reason I use the credit card is because it's public record and it's no secret what I'm spending the money on. Unlike other members of this board, they travel in state or wherever they travel and they get per diem so it bypasses the minutes, so you don't know they're spending money," said Norwood.

"Y'all printed up every supervisor a credit card and I never accepted a card," said Boswell.

"No, because you get Mr. Sumrall to do all your per diems and they're not showing. Don't fool the people up in here, "said Norwood.

Until this meeting, Norwood was the only supervisor to still have a personalized county credit card. Previously, the other supervisors turned in their cards. After much discussion the board voted three to one to stop issuing personalized county credit cards for supervisors.

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