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Pierce matter spurs change

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By Cindy Simpson

A lot has changed with Rockwood finances since the discovery that former public works director Tom Pierce made thousands in credit card purchases using city cards.

Pierce was indicted last month for theft, unauthorized use of a credit card and official misconduct.

“I think as long as the city continues to abide by the changes we’ve made, we should be in a position that no future council or mayor will have to go through a situation like this,” Mayor James Watts said.

“We’ve addressed every rule we are aware of dealing with accountability and purchase policy.”

First and foremost was taking away every card from department heads, which city recorder Becky Ruppe said happened as soon as she arrived.

A purchase policy was also implemented in 2012.

“Just about all your supervisors had a credit card,” Watts said of the former method, “and when they used it, it was their responsibility to bring that receipt into the finance office.”

Basically, Watts said, a city employee can no longer spend public money without several hands being involved in it.

Credit cards are now used only when it’s the only option.

If a check can be written, that will be the norm.

Automatic withdrawals will also be curtailed with exceptions being for things like the Tennessee Consolidated Retirement System.