King: Proper fuel management will result in savings
City Manager Gary King said Wednesday that new fuel management practices will result in “significant” savings by the end of the year, but he did not have an exact figure.
King felt the recently released fuel audit report “understated the obvious” lack of control within that system and that fraud could have easily occurred during the time period of 2006-2010, which the audit examined.
He doesn’t know for certain that fuel was misappropriated, he said, but the conditions were ripe.
“When you have that lack of management control in place, we were extremely vulnerable to abuse and misuse,” he said.
City Auditor Margaret Krym said the early days of the fuel audit included the Cape Coral Police Department, whose forensic computer specialist combed through an isolated snapshot of the fuel database.
The CCPD found no instances of fraud, she said, but Bill Towler’s original report lead to “heightened concern” that law enforcement should be engaged.
County auditors did not use Towler’s data during their investigation, however, and instead built the audit and the accompanying data from the ground up.
Krym concurred there was no system of checks and balances for the delivery of fuel, but added that the 2.2 million gallons of fuel anomalies from 2010 identified within the report were the result of a fuel pump meter being changed and that data not being transferred to the new meter.
Krym added that she didn’t know if Towler’s prediction of over a million dollars worth of annual fuel savings could be achieved, but said the new security measure should save the city something.
“Whatever cost savings are going to come from fuel usage going forward are going to be from applying good management technique,” she said.
Former Public Works Director Chuck Pavlos, now working in the same capacity in northeast Florida, said he was confident the fuel audit would vindicate his position that fuel was not missing, and that the system was moving data around.
Pavlos said he knew the software needed to be upgraded, and that a purchase order for that upgrade died somewhere in the process. He said he was unsure if that purchase order ever made it before the previous city council three years ago.
He said Towler’s report was “inappropriate” because it was made public before it was fully vetted and that neither he nor any of his former staff was consulted.
“You had to dig deeper to see what has happening and that wasn’t accomplished,” he said.
King said it is important for the public to understand that no one on his staff ever accused employees of stealing fuel.
There were no allegations made unfairly, he said, and the focus should be on the system’s mismanagement instead of accusations that never took place.
“No one has been singled out and accused of anything,” he said. “$12 million worth of resources were not being managed properly and that should be the focus.”