More than $38,000 worth of equipment missing from Chattanooga rec centers
Recreation centers in Chattanooga are missing flat-screen televisions, game machines and computers, all paid for by tax dollars and donations. The tab is around $38,000 for the missing or broken equipment.
Back in 2009, the city audit division implemented a new procedure for documenting all city equipment. Three years later, according to an inventory report, it appears workers in the rec centers were never following procedure. It is something Mayor Berke's administration promises is going to change.
"The city has a problem in terms of wasting tax payer dollars because we're not following proper inventory procedures," says Chattanooga City Councilman Larry Grohn.
Grohn requested the city auditor take inventory of equipment used in all city rec centers. The result is 14 pages of items purchased between January 2011 and May 2013, all missing. It's a total $38,600 in inventory.
The list includes items like refrigerators, stoves and computers, all surplus. It also includes items like gaming systems, which were stolen. The list also has items like a pool table, broken. The list goes on and on.
At the Westside Rec Center, 60 percent of the equipment is unaccounted for.
"The city council is supposed to oversee the expenditure of tax payer dollars," says Grohn.
In his report, City Auditor Stan Sewell noted, "During our site visits, staff explanations for missing items included surplus, disposal or stolen. Police reports were provided for several stolen items. However, the majority of missing items lacked any documentation of disposal.
"Mismanagement is unacceptable," says Chief Operating Officer Andrew Kean.
Kean says the Berke administration has already implemented a stricter documentation policy.
"We want to have a much more aggressive calendar for managing inventory."
Kean says they want departments to do quarterly inventory, which Grohn supports. He is just leery of investing any more money into the rec centers or Youth and Development.
"We're also putting a total of $1.7 million in new spending into this of which around $400,000, a little bit less, is going to be in terms of technology," say Grohn.
Kean says new Youth and Family Department Director Lurone Jennings is already working on retraining staff.
"We have the right leadership to ensure we manage our assets in the most responsible way," says Kean.
"They say the proof is in the pudding. Show me," says Grohn.
Auditor Sewell noted in his report that the majority of the rec center staff, "Did not demonstrate a clear and consistent understanding of the methodology or process to ensure compliance with the inventory policy."
Channel 3 requested to speak with Lurone Jennings, but he is out of town.
To see the full audit report, click here.