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Ingram's credit spending questioned By Charles M. Kelly | Fri, Apr 01 2016 03:26 PM

Some Seal Beach citizens questioned the city manager’s credit card use at area restaurants at this week’s City Council meeting. However, the city’s Finance Department director said all expenses charged to the city manager’s credit card were reasonable and necessary.

Joyce Parque, a local activist and long-time critic of city officials, said she had reviewed City Manager Jill Ingram’s credit card use in 2014 and 2015. She was particularly upset about money spent at restaurants. Parque obtained the information through a California Public Records Act request. Parque has raised the issue of Ingram’s credit card expenses on multiple occassions.

Another citizen referred to some of the credit card transactions as “entertainment” expenses.

Seal Beach businessman Matt Murphree told the council that he had looked at City Manager Jill Ingram’s credit card expenses for 12 months.

According to Murphree, Ingram has spent a range of $2,000 to $5,000 a month on dining expenses.

Murphree said that as a businessman he was required to account for his expenses.

Beatley said that the city budget included money for for the credit card expenses. She said that off the top of her head, she believed the expenses are within budget.

According to Marc Loopesko, “The 2015 monthly credit card charges on Ms. Ingram’s city issued card show an inexcusable amount of restaurant charges.  Dining out three to four  times a week on the taxpayers is an abuse.  If she is having meetings with council members, members of her staff or vendors to the city, those meetings can be done at City Hall.  But spending $2,000 to $5,000 per month on meals is an abuse and would not even be tolerated in most of the large corporations expense budget policies.  Who is watching over her charges?”

Treasurerer/Finance Director Victoria Beatley said there are no entertainment expenses in Seal Beach.

Beatley said the city has three credit cards: one for the city manager, one for the chief of police and one for the the finance director. Beatley said the credit cards are used for staff throughout the city for expenses that include travel, training and lunch meetings with staff or council members.

According to Beatley, training is the primary credit card expense.

District One Councilwoman Ellery Deaton also rejected the description of the credit card transactions as “entertainment.”

“The city does not entertain,” Deaton said.

“We don’t have clients. And I will go through the past year’s warrants again to be sure that the taxpayers’ dollars are being properly spent,” Deaton said.

Parque said she asked the city clerk what authorization Ingram had to charge expenses to the the city and was told Ingram was allowed to charge for reasonable expenses for official business.

“Official business is not having lunch at The Boathouse,” Parque said.

Parque said that the best place to conduct city business is City Hall, not a restaurant.

However, according to Beatley the expenses for lunch meetings with city officials and staff were reasonable and necessary.

She said there is a process for assigning receipts to the correct city account. She confirmed that food is brought in to the City Council and city staff on meeting nights.

According to the Bank of America credit card statement for May 11-June 10, 2015, Ingram spent a total of $6,000.25. Of that figure, $1,552.62 was spent on restaurants or catering. Most of the businesses patronized that month were Seal Beach businesses. 

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