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McCaffrey orders Lockport city credit cards destroyed

LOCKPORT – Mayor Anne E. McCaffrey has ordered the destruction of both city credit cards and the closing of the accounts.

McCaffrey said she gave the mayor’s credit card to City Treasurer Michael E. White and ordered him to cut up that card as well as the card White himself controlled.

“We’ll pay the last bill and that will be it,” McCaffrey said.

Credit cards became an issue when White’s office discovered that Youth and Recreation Director Melissa I. Junke had charged $9,080 in expenses for a golf tournament on a city card controlled by Mayor Michael W. Tucker, who resigned last Friday.

The tournament was organized by a restaurant owned by Junke’s brother. It was supposed to raise money for Junke’s department, but the tournament failed to cover expenses.

The city hired an outside attorney to investigate the case. Junke’s attorney, George V.C. Muscato, said Tucker knew about Junke’s golf tournament plans when he gave her the credit card. Tucker denied that in an interview before he left office.

Muscato has threatened to sue the city on Junke’s behalf over the disclosure of her name and over White’s statement to The Buffalo News on Feb. 4 that there never were any deposits of proceeds from the event. Muscato said about $1,500 was deposited.

To replace credit cards as a means of payment, Corporation Counsel John J. Ottaviano said the city is talking with M&T Bank about setting up “purchase card” accounts.

Under the plan being considered, department heads and employees would have to sign out the cards from the Treasurer’s Office and would have to acknowledge that misuse of the cards could lead to penalties, including termination.

Ottaviano said the cards would be coded so only certain types of purchases could be made with each, and the cards would have limits of $500 to $1,500.

“This purchasing card should be used for things you can’t drive a couple miles away and buy,” the city attorney said.

The city already has accounts at a few local businesses, primarily for minor purchases such as office supplies and hardware for some departments.

Ottaviano said the proposed new cards wouldn’t be usable as general credit cards.

He said that when a city official leaves town to go to a meeting, he will need prior authorization for costs. The employee then will have to charge the expenses to his personal credit card and submit bills for reimbursement upon his return.

Council President Joseph C. Kibler said that McCaffrey has ordered work on a new city code of ethics.

On another topic, McCaffrey said the license plate LP1 will not be available to anyone in the general public after the city auctions off the mayor’s official car. She said Tuesday she wants to dispose of the 2009 Dodge Charger that Tucker drove.

The LP1 plate has traditionally been used for the official mayoral vehicle. “The county clerk will hold the license plate LP1 until some future Lockport mayor wants it,” McCaffrey said.