JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- In a time when budgets are being slashed and officers jobs are being cut at the drop of a bingo ball, a new audit of the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office Aviation Unit shows some room for improvement.
"I find those things very troubling,” said City Council Finance Chairman John Crescimbeni.
While the results were better than he anticipated, Crescimbeni still isn’t pleased with some of the audit’s findings.
The Aviation Unit is comprised of eight aircraft, four helicopters and four fixed-winged planes.
The report shows overtime is being overlooked by the Aviation Unit and the Corrections Fugitive Unit when calculating their costs. It also found a Cessna 172 airplane has just been sitting in a hangar not being used.
"If they're not using it for the functions of the sheriff's office why keep it? Why continue to spend money maintaining it,” Crescimbeni asked.
We took those questions to the head of the sheriff’s office’s Aviation Unit, Director John Hartley.
Hartley tells us the city tried to sell the Cessna in 2008 for $46,000, but didn’t get any bids. Since then he says it’s been sitting out of use for “a long time.”
As for the overtime, he agrees there is room for improvement. "We're always looking to be leaner and better. They made some good suggestions and we accepted each and every one of them,” Hartley said.
JSO agreed with all of the auditor’s recommendations. "Any time you can save money in one facet of your operations, you can apply that money to something else,” said Crescimbeni.
The audit did give the Aviation Unit positive marks in some areas. The report concludes the amount of fuel used during calendar year 2011 was reasonable. It also says the type of trips they used the aircrafts for were for public purpose.
JSO is now investigating the sale/auction of the out-of-use Cessna.
Sheriff John Rutherford is scheduled to appear before the Finance Committee for a line-by-line budget review on August 17.