I-Team: Missing city property costing taxpayers

Posted at 7:27 PM, Mar 24, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-25 12:26:43-04

The I-Team went digging into city records in Tampa and St. Petersburg and found more than a million dollars worth of unaccounted for stuff -- stuff you paid for.

We asked for a list of every item unaccounted for in both cities.

Tampa lists 229 missing items which cost taxpayers $960,973.51.  

St. Pete has 442 items that cost taxpayers $132,109.07

Some missing items are quite bizarre, like a giant 13 by 12 foot art sculpture in Tampa with a $30,000 price tag.  No one could tell us where it is!

Or how about six Green Naped Lories.  Yes birds, that cost St. Pete taxpayers $275 each. They flew the coupe after volunteers left the gate open.

On a more serious note, we discovered several guns in police departments listed and three decontamination tents, costing $26,000 each that were used for hazmat emergencies.

In 2012 an undercover St. Pete police officer lost a city owned Glock 45.  He had to pay it back.

Tampa Police had a total of six guns on the unaccounted for list.

"The thing that stands out the most and the thing that was most concerning when we saw this list is the six guns," says Andrea Davis, a spokesperson for Tampa Police.

She tells the I-Team all six guns are now accounted for.

"All six guns are accounted for. They have either been destroyed at some point over the years and there was a paper work issue filing across the street with auditing or one particular gun we have still."

Other unaccounted for items on the list include tactical vests, police badges, laptops and other gear.

Davis explains the some of the tactical vests were donated to foreign countries because the gear has an expiration date.

When breaking down the costs of missing items in city departments, Tampa Police have lost five times more than any other department.

Assets costing more than half a million dollars ($576,092.65)   

Davis explains, "Well, you figure out of everything that's asseted within the city, the Tampa Police Department has half of that."

Sonya Little is Tampa's Chief Finance Officer.  She says many of the unaccounted for items have lost value and the missing property list is always changing.

"There's always room for improvement in everything you do.  When you compare it to a record of over $2 billion in total assets, I think that our record is a very good record."

So who looks for these items?

"We have an inventory staff in our revenue and finance department and we work very closely with all of our staff in our citywide departments," Little said.

In St. Petersburg, City Finance Director Anne Fritz admits there's room for improvement when tracking these items.

"Maybe make some more type codes so that it's more easily identified."

As for Tampa Police, Davis says while most of the items have a good explanation, they could improve on reporting to the finance department when the items have been located.

"It's an eye opening thing for all of us here that we do need to pay more attention to things like this."

>DOWNLOAD: Tampa unaccounted assets 

>DOWNLOAD: St. Petersburg's Unaccounted property

>DOWNLOAD: St Petersburg Police Department 

Follow I-Team Investigator Jarrod Holbrook @jarrodholbrook