Who can spend Township money? What are the limitations? How is spending controlled? A couple of weeks ago The Times Herald ran an article on spending limits in the county. That article only scratched the surface on the controls in place in Kimball Township to make sure your dollars are spent wisely and with proper approvals. As stated in the article no one can spend anything over $500 without board approval. But can anyone spend amounts under $500 without approval?
Spending controls start with the budget. Each year the township goes through about a six month process of looking at the next budget. Department heads give input, the planning commission reviews the Capital Improvement Plan, the Township Board often has budget workshops, and there are public hearings on the budget. The Township has been careful over the past 5 years to limit expenses to revenues, protecting the Township’s financial position. We have for 5 consecutive years used a very wise budgeting process.
The Administrative Policy Manual speaks on expenditure controls. No one can spend money without department head approval, this includes trustees, and is not limited by dollar amount. Trustees cannot spend money in a department without that department heads approval. The department head also cannot spend without an approval process.
The department head must review his/her budget prior to making a purchase. If there is insufficient budget funds available in the budget line item for the expenditure, that department head cannot make the expenditure. They have authorization to move budget items around if necessary. So a department head can move budget dollars from one line item to another, but they cannot increase their overall expenditures without board approval.
Our policy is clear, no one can spend even a single penny on behalf of the Township without an approval process. The Times Herald article focused on the amounts over $500. There are additional limitations on large expenditures. For example, purchases over $500 require at least three bids/quotes. This allows for the community to see that the Township is getting the best value on its purchases. Expenditures over $5,000 require the bids/quotes come in as sealed bids, further protecting the integrity of the process.
Our staff is taught the expenditures process. Department Heads receive monthly reports. All of the policies and controls are reviewed with the board when they enter office. Although, it may seem cumbersome to follow policies such as these it only serves to protect you and the community in which you live. Although the Times Herald article was correct regarding Kimball Township’s policy on expenditures over $500, the Township expenditure control is much deeper than that.