Gary judge repays tax money spent on Christmas cards

2013-01-22T14:15:00Z 2013-01-23T00:07:08Z Gary judge repays tax money spent on Christmas cardsBy Dan Carden dan.carden@nwi.com, (317) 637-9078 nwitimes.com
January 22, 2013 2:15 pm  • 

INDIANAPOLIS | Gary City Judge Deidre Monroe has repaid the city $787.48 after state auditors told her government funds can't be used to buy Christmas cards.

According to a State Board of Accounts audit released Monday, Monroe used her city-issued credit card to buy 500 imprinted holiday cards on Nov. 22, 2011.

Auditors said that is an unallowable and unnecessary use of city tax dollars.

In a letter written to the State Board of Accounts, Monroe said she disagreed with the audit finding but said her answer as to whether the money is worth fighting about is "probably no."

"I believe that it is unfair to ask for repayment and that the better course of action would be to advise the governmental unit that this is not allowed," Monroe said. "In my opinion, this was not an unreasonable or excessive cost."

Monroe said she's received Christmas cards from elected officials in the past and wasn't aware she couldn't use city funds to buy and send her own.

"Christmas cards have been used historically by Americans to tell their neighbors 'I am thinking of you during the Christmas season,' " Monroe said. "The court strongly believes that it is important that the citizens of Gary know that the court is accessible and is here to serve and help all citizens of Gary."

Auditors also said Monroe's travel reimbursements weren't consistently supported by documentation.

Monroe said no one ever asked for her records and the city controller "possibly misplaced" the copies she submitted.

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