Charlottesville officials charged more than $480,000 to city credit cards in the first half of 2019.
Of those expenses, nearly $10,000 has been on apparel for employees this year.
The information is based on credit card statements for cards registered to specific city employees and departments obtained by The Daily Progress under the Virginia Freedom of Information Act.
The Progress has obtained statements for department heads from Jan. 1, 2018, through June 27, 2019. For the City Council and council staff, the newspaper has statements from June 28, 2017, through June 27, 2019. On Friday, The Progress received statements for credit cards in all city departments.
The departmental cards include charges for employee apparel, office supplies and travel for conferences. The purpose of all of the expenditures isn’t clear because not all statements have a description of the charges.
The Parks and Recreation Department charged $153,992 to its 12 cards and two now-closed accounts this year, the most of any department.
A majority of the charges were for maintenance at city parks, meals, travel and conferences. The total includes $3,639 for clothing.
A total of $27 was charged at the Regal Cinemas in Stonefield.
One employee spent $16.20 at a bookstore in Atlanta and the statements reflect a monthly subscription to the premium version of the Spotify music streaming service. (The free version of Spotify can only be used with a WiFi connection and includes advertisements.)
More than $3,000 was charged for what appears to be events at the Funquest Family Entertainment Center in Lynchburg.
Several Amazon purchases also appear on the department’s statements, but no descriptions are provided.
The city manager’s office has five cards, which are used by different departments. Two are for employees within the office and one each is for the Office of Human Rights, communications and the department of budget and performance management.
Combined, those cards have $71,042 in charges.
The communications card had the majority of charges, at $35,673. About $9,500 was for upgrading equipment related to the city’s public TV station. Other charges include events, marketing and $25.50 for a meal for Councilor Wes Bellamy before a budget work session in March.
The city manager office card has $21,585 in charges so far this year, mostly for office supplies and conferences. It also has a $100 gift card for Assistant City Manager Mike Murphy at BBQ Exchange. It’s unclear if he bought the card or received it. Officials also charged $136 for a phone case for City Manager Tarron Richardson.
The Human Rights card had $4,624 in charges, mostly for Human Rights Commission meetings and conferences for Manager Charlene Green and HRC members.
The budget and performance management card had $6,865 in charges, and one labeled “redevelopment,” mostly used for redevelopment manager Brenda Kelley, had $2,475.
The Public Utilities Department, which has 10 cards, accounts for $64,920 in expenditures.
Department employees charged $3,971 for apparel, mostly for boots.
The cards also reflect $2,000 for office supplies, $199 for a social media marketing conference in March and $206.35 across several charges labeled “UVA baseball giveaways.”
The Human Services Department has six cards, which don’t have descriptions for the charges on the statements. The department includes all residential, foster family and community-based services.
The cards had $48,972 in charges.
The cards reflect several purchases at Super Shoes, totaling $534.39. Officials spent more than $1,000 at a car repair shop in Albemarle County, $83 at Violet Crown and $416 at a hotel in Silver Spring, Maryland.
The cards also have a $99 charge to Ancestry.com. Officials also paid $250 to C-Ville Weekly and $29.75 across six months for an online subscription to The Daily Progress. Other charges were at restaurants, Walmart, Kroger and for counseling services.
The Department of Neighborhood Development Services saw $32,076 in charges across four cards. Much of the spending went to certifications, conferences and training.
Staff spent more than $200 for flowers for employees on bereavement or one employee in the hospital.
The cards also reflect $1,876 in clothing.
The Public Works Department spent $24,411 on four cards. Most of the charges were for conferences, supplies and drone repair or training. There’s also a $1,250 purchase labeled “PW SWAG.” Swag is colloquially used to refer to branded merchandise that companies give employees.
Staff in the Commissioner of the Revenue Office spent $23,244 on two cards. The biggest charge was $1,704 for an employee training in California. Another $1,514 was charged for a hotel at a conference hosted by a software developer in California.
The cards also reflect $1,022 for attire branded with the office logo and $499.99 to replace a microwave oven.
The procurement/purchasing office spent $17,535 across two cards. The statements do not have descriptions of the charges.
One card is designated for City Council administration and is mostly used by Clerk of Council Kyna Thomas. Thomas’ predecessor, Paige Rice, had a card in her name. Rice pleaded guilty last week to embezzlement charges for keeping an Apple Watch and iPhone purchased by the city.
The council card had $11,137 in charges, mostly in wireless bills for council devices, food for meetings and office materials.
The Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office has one card that had $8,842 in charges. The biggest expense was $545 for a conference in California and the rest was for office supplies.
The City Attorney’s Office rounds out department credit cards, spending $3,934 on one card. A third of that amount was for legal compliance material. Another charge was $361 for Deputy City Attorney Lisa Robertson to attend a conference in Norfolk in April.
Of the city’s elected officials, Mayor Nikuyah Walker, Councilors Kathy Galvin, Mike Signer and Bellamy and Treasurer Jason Vandever have city-issued cards in their names.
Councilor Heather Hill had a card, but it was never used and the account was closed in December. She had not used it during her tenure. Sheriff James Brown had a card in his name that was converted to a department card in April.
Commissioner of the Revenue Todd Divers and Commonwealth’s Attorney Joe Platania do not have cards in their names, only departmental ones.
Vandever did not make any charges in the first half of 2019.
Police Chief RaShall Brackney is the only official with a card in their name to spend more than an entire department in the first half of the year. She has spent $5,064, which is more than the City Attorney’s Office.
Employees with cards in their name spent a total of $20,616 in the first half of the year.