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THE INVESTIGATORS: State Treasurer weighs in on the thousands of items the state has misplaced

Updated: May. 18, 2021 at 6:08 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - From a $1,400 vacuum cleaner to a total home fitness gym or even an upright bike, taxpayers have bought a lot for the state of Louisiana over the last five years. According to the state’s inventory list, they can’t find a lot of it. In fact, 9,926 items that taxpayer money paid for are still missing at agencies across Louisiana. The items cost more than $26 million since 2016.

WAFB’s Scottie Hunter asked State Treasurer John Schroder what his reaction is to those missing items.

“It’s ridiculous, Schroder said. “To me that sounds awfully fishy and I’d want to know why.”

RELATED: THE INVESTIGATORS: DOC misplaced dozens of cows according to state records

Schroder is not the only one who wants answers. When the 9News Investigators brought the missing items to the attention of a handful of agencies, the folks in charge said some of the items were old or that their tags may have fallen off when crews searched their inventory. Schroder says those who are trusted with the things tax dollars paid for could do a better job of holding on to them.

”That’s unacceptable. When you work in this space and you’re working for the taxpayers of this state, inventory is paramount,” said Schroder. “I want to believe that there’s no theft but how do we know there’s not? I mean, you have procedures in place for a reason.”

One of the wildest examples WAFB found had to be more than a dozen cows unaccounted for with the Department of Corrections.

“How do you lose a cow?” Schroder asked.

When the 9News Investigators asked, leaders with DOC said some of the cows bought on your dime die, remain in the woods when the agency tries to count them or they get snatched up by wild animals.

LSU reported the most items missing in the last five years, racking up more than $8 million in property taxpayers paid for but they can’t find. That includes a power mixer that a spokesman for the university says was likely moved to an unknown location on campus. While the search for that mixer continues, the state treasurer says you the taxpayer deserve better.

“Look, I just think it’s part of your job you know and if you’re doing your job you should be maintaining that and get it cleaned up and put something in place to get it done annually,” said Schroder.

While the State Treasurer understands things get old and need to be replaced, he believes agencies have to do it the right way so items don’t end up on the state’s inventory list.

“We owe that to the public to make sure that we are maintaining our inventories,” Schroder added. “That is just good policy and it’s being a good steward. That’s what the taxpayers expect us to do.”

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