Tax payers lose out on $124,000

February 9, 2010 3:25:32 PM PST
The City of Durham has lost over $100,000 on two garbage trucks it bought four years ago and never used.A bad decision compiled with a lack of oversight has led to taxpayers losing out.

The trucks are similar to the so-called knuckle boom cranes Durham uses to pick up bulk trash.

The owner of Chapman's Automotive in Hillsborough bought the trucks late last year from Durham for less than $30,000 each - a steal, considering the city bought them for three times that amount four years ago and never used them.

No one from the city would go on camera with ABC11 Eyewitness News, but a spokesperson did say the trucks were purchased by a former solid waste department supervisor.

The problem was the design of the trucks was wrong. It required two workers to operate when city trucks are supposed to be operated by just one person.

So they sat unused and depreciating for two years before the city tried to sell them.

Then they sat another two years, unsold, before the city finally auctioned them off last September.

The trucks had less than 1,000 miles on them. Durham taxpayers lost $124,000 in the process.

That money may not sound like a lot, but it would pay the annual salaries of three or four equipment operators at Durham's Department of Solid Waste, buy at least four new police patrol cars and it would more than cover the salary of the spokesperson for the city who wouldn't talk to ABC11 on camera about the story.

Part of the problem four years ago was there was no oversight of that solid waste supervisor. There were no channels he had to go through, so he was able to spend taxpayer money with little accountability.

However, that has now changed.

The year after the city bought the trucks; they enacted a fleet replacement program. Purchases now have to go through a number of checkpoints first.

The goal is to stop any other $124,000 mistakes before they happen.

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