Government Agencies in Missouri Spent $2,047,457.28 on Credit Card Fees and $17,940.49 on Late Payment Penalty Charges During 2009
[NOTE: After an article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch‘s Political Fix blog covered this entry, and after speaking to an official from the government department in question, Christine Harbin wrote a follow-up entry that contains updated information. — Editor]
As if enough taxpayer money weren’t already going toward banks!
The expenditure for all of Missouri’s government agencies combined increased from $381,553.98 in 2008 to $2,047,457.28 in 2009, which represents an increase of 436.61 percent.
The breakdown between agencies is particularly puzzling. In 2009, the Department of Conservation in Missouri paid $1,818,208 in credit card fees. This represents an increase of 1,141.25 percent from 2008’s expenditure. It dwarfs the amount of credit card fees that the secretary of the state’s office and the Department of Natural Resources paid, which was $183,894 and $30,854, respectively. The amount paid in credit card fees by the other agencies combined was $14,501, which is nevertheless $14,501 too much.
Total of Spending on Credit Card Fees by Agency (in 1,000s)
When I look at the trend of this information over time, I am speechless. What is going on here?
Trend of Spending on Credit Card Fees by Agency (in 1,000s)
I discovered a similarly disturbing trend when I looked at the amount of Late Payment Penalty Charges by government agency. The public safety department spent $17,494.22 in 2009, which represents an increase of 43,168 percent over the previous year! The total for all Missouri government agencies in this category increased from $327,432.60 to $17,940,490 during this period, which is an increase of 5,379 percent.
Total Spending on Late Payment Penalty Charges by Agency (in 1,000s)
In my opinion, this is the quintessential example of government waste and fiscal irresponsibility. The amount of money that the government spends on things like credit card fees and late payment penalty charges should be zero. This figure doesn’t include the amount of products and services that these government agencies purchased. It also doesn’t include the amount of interest that they were charged. This number consists solely of the extra fees that were incurred on government credit cards. Can any of our blog readers explain the dramatic increase in either of these numbers? I’m really interested to know.
I discovered this information while playing with the Show-Me Institute’s recently-launched web tool, “Show-Me: The Spending.” I encourage our blog readers to play with the site and see what else they can uncover related to Missouri’s government spending.