I-TEAM learns more Jacksonville city property missing
Nearly $5 million in purchased items unaccounted for
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – More than a year after uncovering more than $4 million worth of city of Jacksonville property that was missing or stolen, the I-TEAM has learned that the city has now lost track of additional items during the last fiscal year, with a combined initial cost of $877,000.
The list of nearly 250 additional items was created by the city’s finance department and turned over to the City Council. It details items that belonged to several city departments, including Fleet Management, Information Technology, Garbage & Solid Waste, and the Sheriff’s Office.
The most expensive single item on the list is a garbage truck, valued at more than $84,000. Auditors are unclear how it may have gone astray.
“Maybe someone is driving our garbage truck up in Massachusetts or somewhere right now, handling snow or whatever,” said Councilman Bill Gulliford, sharing uncertainty about the truck’s whereabouts. “Again, that's the reason for the audit."
The I-TEAM asked Gulliford, who sits on the council finance committee, about the garbage truck, and some of the other items that the city cannot account for, including copy machines, scanners, video recording devices and lawn mowers.
“That could be the same thing,” Gulliford said. “You might have a lawn mower that was taken off the list but not taken off the list. In other words, taken out of service because it’s too old or not functioning, and nobody caught that.”
When asked if he could guarantee the garbage truck hadn’t been stolen, the councilman said he could not.
Among the items missing from other departments:
- Gates, air compressors, an ATV and a golf cart, missing from Fleet Management
- More than $160,000 worth of radio equipment, along with computers and projectors, missing from Information Technology
- Computers, shelves, and televisions, missing from the Environmental Quality Division
- A $7,300 copy machine, missing from the Jacksonville Children’s Commission
- A $3,700 industrial scale, missing from Garbage and Solid Waste
- A $15,000 computer server which belonged to the Sheriff’s Office
COMPLETE LIST: Missing or stolen city property for 2016 fiscal year
For the I-TEAM’s 2016 report on missing or stolen city property, we talked with City Councilman John Crescimbeni. A list of equipment which disappeared between 2010 and 2015 included exercise equipment, Breathalyzers, and even an ice machine. At the time, Crescimbeni admitted it would be difficult to know if someone was taking these pieces of city property.
“We should be able to find the ice machines,” Crescimbeni said last year. “If we can’t find them, then something has happened.”
Crescimbeni had told the I-TEAM that the city had a long-standing problem with keeping track of its property, and that city officials were considering moving to a bar code system. Under that system, every city item receives a sticker and is inventoried electronically.
"Does the city have a problem?" we asked Gulliford.
"I don't think so," Gulliford responded. "I think you gotta realize it's a very large enterprise. If you look at a billion dollar company, they have similar type situations where they have to do audits and check for things, and some of it can be shrinkage, some of it can be stolen, there's no doubt about that."
The I-TEAM wanted to know if efforts had been made to either stop the theft or mismanagement of city items.
“There was a discussion about maybe going to bar code, but I think you gotta weigh the cost of doing that, it's not just the cost of bar code equipment, but also the man hours it would take to implement it, as to how much shrinkage you're really gonna have,” Gulliford explained. “We'll see what the final number is and then I guess probably, it's been evaluated in the past where the number was not large enough to justify spending the money to do bar coding."
The city confirms it is not moving to a bar code system, because of the costs of the equipment and the time-consuming process of putting a sticker on each and every piece of equipment. Gulliford told the I-TEAM the city is now looking at the list and performing a follow-up audit to see if they can find anything that is missing.
The city council is currently considering a bill to remove the missing or stolen items from the city’s tangible property records. The items have a combined net book value, or value after depreciation, of approximately $52,000. The bill, which was introduced Feb. 28, is currently making its way through council committees.
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