Auditor raps Vancouver's knuckles

Fire dept. inventory records inadequate, state says

By Stephanie Rice, Columbian Vancouver city government reporter

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The city of Vancouver was faulted in a state audit performed this summer for inadequately tracking fire department equipment purchased with federal money.

A summary of findings, released Monday by State Auditor Troy Kelley, didn’t say the city lost any equipment, only it “did not maintain adequate records to support that it had performed a physical inventory as required.”

Federal grant recipients are supposed to perform a physical inventory of equipment every two years.

The fire department also hadn’t been tracking equipment worth $5,000 or more appropriately, the audit noted. Lists of equipment didn’t include serial numbers, for example.

Additionally, four department assets valued at more than $5,000 were not found on any checklist.

The finding was the one failure found during an extensive audit and analysis of the city’s 2012 financial records and grant compliance requirements.

Staff turnover

The city subsequently performed an immediate inventory of fire department equipment and confirmed the grant-funding equipment was working and where it should be, said Barbara Ayers, the city’s spokeswoman.

Lloyd Tyler, the city’s chief financial officer, said the city appreciated the feedback from the auditor’s office.

“Even with recent cuts in staff and resources, we have never lost focus on our strategic commitment to be accountable and responsible,” Tyler said.

In the summary of the audit, staff turnover was cited as the cause of the inadequate tracking system, as employees weren’t aware of all of the federal requirements.

The city received and spent more than $3.1 million in federal grants in 2012.

The money including stimulus dollars was awarded though the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the Edward Byrne Memorial Competitive Grant, the Urban Area Security Initiatives grant — which provided equipment to the city’s fire and police departments — the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant and Community Development Block Grant Program, Ayers said.

Stephanie Rice: 360-735-4508 or stephanie.rice@columbian.com