Other people's money. It's so fun to play with. Especially when it's yours.

Let us explain: Today city controller Wendy Greuel said her latest audit has discovered that more than $7 million worth of fuel costs have gone basically unexplained at City Hall.

That's your tax money at work, and it's enough to hire lots of cops and firefighters. And it's gone, in the ether like smoke after a fire:

According to a statement from Greuel's office today, her audit looked at city fuel costs for a 22-month period and found that …

… more than $7 million in fuel was taken without any information identifying the vehicle or purpose that the gas was intended for and that City departments ignored a $12 million fuel tracking system that the City purchased a decade ago to help prevent this type of abuse.


Final Fuel Use Report 3-29-12 (1)

Greuel wants to set up a “fuel task force” too look into the losses.

She also wants to see “keypad” access at fueling stations, which works around the tracking system, tightly controlled.

The controller said that $4 million of the $7 million in lost costs was a result of this loophole. No one seems to know why or for what the fuel was pumped.

Additional, she wants to see paper or manual fuel logs to document why fuel is being pumped via keypad access.

Greuel says:

What we have here is a problem that is exacerbated by the fact that City leaders are not holding managers accountable. In the private sector, it would be unthinkable to take millions in supplies or resources and ignore a multi-million dollar system that was designed to prevent theft or illegitimate use of resources, or in this case, the City's fuel. My audit reveals that there is a tremendous lack of oversight when it comes to the City's fuel use.

$7 mil up in smoke wouldn't be such a big deal if the city weren't perpetually swimming in red ink and battling with police and fire unions over things like overtime and hiring. With a new, $200 million deficit looming this summer, that's enough cash to get mad about it.

And, like we said, it's yours.

[@dennisjromero / djromero@laweekly.com / @LAWeeklyNews]

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