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DPW employee quits after audit uncovers missing fuel

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By Wednesday, Apr 18, 2018 News

 Great Barrington — A town employee has resigned recently after officials discovered almost $250 worth of gasoline from the town’s tanks could not be accounted for.

Town Manager Jennifer Tabakin and Department of Public Works Superintendent Sean Van Deusen said Tuesday the town is reviewing its gasoline storage and use procedures after an audit showed the missing fuel. 

An audit in late February of the town’s fuel usage revealed that gas cans were being filled far too often during this winter, resulting in approximately 100 more gallons of gasoline taken from town pumps compared to previous seasons.

The overuse was evident because the town only uses gas cans to fill town-owned lawn mowers and leaf blowers, and there is no reason for any employee to be filling gas cans in the winter. 

As a result of the audit and a subsequent investigation, one DPW worker is no longer employed by the town. The audit and investigation showed about $240 worth of gasoline use was unaccounted for, said Tabakin, who did not disclose the name of the employee who left. 

The town has gasoline-monitoring software that provides detailed accounting of gas use, filling and time, accessed by a key and code. Typically, Van Deusen said, a key fob is used to fuel vehicles, but codes may be used to fill gas cans for landscaping use. The town conducted an investigation into why the gas cans were filled in the winter. It was during this investigation that the employee resigned.

“We are pleased that the auditing software we have in place worked to quickly identify a problem, leading to a rapid resolution,” Tabakin said in a written statement. “There is no insignificant amount of taxpayer property that can be improperly taken and used, and I am glad that this situation was resolved quickly and will lead to greater controls and accountability for our resources.”

In addition to aggressively monitoring the software in the future, Tabakin said the town will install cameras on DPW fuel tanks. A further audit of all town vehicles showed no additional fuel missing. 

Tabakin said the incident comes as the town has reduced its gasoline and diesel budget from $115,000 to $90,000 for the next fiscal year. The budget change comes occurred as a result of economic factors such as stable fuel prices and the town’s overall usage. But missing fuel was not a factor in the budget proposal, which will be approved or rejected by taxpayers at the May 7 annual town meeting.

Tabakin said that last year, the town was on pace to underutilize the gasoline and diesel $115,000 budget, so a reduced budget for FY19 was warranted.

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