BALTIMORE (WJZ) — $5.6 million sat on the books unused and unnoticed by Baltimore Department of Public Works for over a decade, a city audit discovered.
The audit released was Wednesday at a city Board of Estimates meeting. DPW oversees waste removal and recycling, and water distribution.
“The agency did not have a process to review the general ledger to validate the account activities and account balances,” the report reads.
Because of this, the agency wasn’t aware the revenue was available to use.
After the issue was brought up, the bulk of the funding went toward compliance projects- aka maintenance- at Baltimore’s landfill.
Democratic Baltimore County Councilman Bill Henry jumped on this to ask why the department was not made aware of the funds earlier.
“I understand that our long-term solid waste management plan and our landfill are important priorities, and so I’ve requested additional information on how the decision was made to transfer the surplus funds for these projects, and not for any other DPW priority — like our water infrastructure or our long-promised composting center,” he said in a statement.
The report identified issues with the landfills themselves. It found there were no working camera systems in place to detect suspicious activity or trespassers- including scavengers removing materials from the landfills.
There were also no controls at the disposal sites to minimize the risk of losing money from employees taking scrap metal or items from the landfill.
They also cited internet outages would lead to longer wait times, which would cut the productivity of operations.
The department officials said they have agreed to the audit’s recommendations toward addressing the issues, including making proposals for security camera installations, as well as revising the weigh station system.
The plans will be approved when they’re able to secure funding, the report said.
Councilman Henry also said there needs to be more transparency about how the department dispersed the surplus funds, and mentioned the “thousands of Baltimoreans” who are in need of water bill relief after the ransomware attack, and posed the idea that the city’s water infrastructure is “so badly in need of repair that many of us wonder if our own neighborhood is at risk of going through a crisis similar to the one Poe Homes experienced this summer,”
Earlier in October, Mayor Jack Young also expressed he wanted a separate audit to look into the handling of the DPW’s water billing system after it was discovered the city had failed to collect a total of $2.3 million from the Ritz-Carlton Residences for more than a decade.