No receipts, no documentation, no problem: Brampton’s system for tracking expensive equipment and tools completely broken, audit finds 
(Tim Umphrys/Unsplash)

No receipts, no documentation, no problem: Brampton’s system for tracking expensive equipment and tools completely broken, audit finds 

The City of Brampton’s internal auditors have tagged a recent report with an “Immediate Action Required” notice, the strongest possible red flag it can raise. 

It signals key controls have either not been designed properly or are not operating effectively and require corrective action right away in order to prevent further issues or loss of taxpayer money.  

According to the audit, Brampton does not have proper policies and procedures in place to manage the millions of dollars in tools and small equipment its staff rely on to carry out their jobs across the municipality.  

The findings paint a picture of a City that views small pieces of equipment, even those which cost as much as $45,000, as expendable. 

There are no policies for managing the condition of these frequently used pieces of equipment.  Items are typically purchased without formal documentation, stored in unsecured locations, and there is no formalized inventory for the City to even know how many pieces of equipment it owns, which ones are out for repairs, or those that could potentially be missing. This is made more problematic by each department purchasing equipment in siloes, despite overlap in tasks and the ability to potentially save taxpayer money by sharing tools. 

The City also lacks consistent financial reporting mechanisms, or “capitalization thresholds” for these pieces of equipment, meaning it may not have a clear idea of how much these untracked purchases could be impacting the bottom line. 

The City currently does not know the total value of its small equipment.

“Audit staff encountered difficulties in isolating these purchases from other City spending. As a result, we are not able to provide an estimate on the City’s past purchases, usage, and current inventory levels of small equipment and operating tools,” the report notes

Brampton’s Accounting Services Group first set a capitalization threshold at $250 for small equipment, gradually increasing to $1,000,” but the threshold was never formally documented in City policies.  This creates a lack of transparency, and inconsistent communication pertaining to the record of costs resulting from small equipment and tool purchases. Not formally documenting and communicating the capitalization threshold can also result in “incorrect and inconsistent financial reporting,” the audit states. It highlights how the threshold increased from $500 to $1,000 in 2023, a change that was communicated to City staff by email, but the Internal Audit found “the understanding of the threshold varies among different units.” 

The audit detailed a break-in at a City storage facility that saw an estimated $35,000 worth of equipment stolen; and generally poor treatment, management and storage of equipment valued at hundreds, and sometimes thousands of dollars, leading to the potential for more costs in repairs and replacement down the road—all of which will occur on the taxpayer’s dime. 


Screencap of images shared by Internal Audit depicting a storage facility owned by the City’s Parks unit where a number of string trimmers, valued at $35,000 were stolen in December 2023. The audit report states that sheds and containers lack surveillance cameras and alarm systems.

(City of Brampton Internal Audit)


In another instance of the City failing to properly store and secure its small equipment and operating tools, the audit found a recreation centre in Brampton had left two expensive floor-cleaning machines (valued at over $5,000) in a hallway because there was not a proper storage space for them. In another instance, a storage site had a routine practice of leaving an entrance door open for an “extended period,” which staff at the location said is a common practice while temporary workers wait to receive City security passes—something that can take up to two weeks. This location has reported four missing generators. 

“Some units could benefit from improved security measures,” the audit states. 

A chart depicting examples of commonly used equipment by different departments at the City of Brampton. Despite departments using the same tools, they are rarely shared across the City, resulting in more equipment being purchased.

(City of Brampton) 


There were also issues identified with the City’s lack of central planning when it comes to acquiring commonly used small equipment. 

“Currently, each operating unit independently purchases small equipment. This approach lacks coordinated planning that can lead to increased inventory and associated costs, especially for commonly used equipment,” the audit states. 

For example, in 2017, ten extra pole saws, valued at $6,000, were assigned to the Forestry Unit, despite the fact they could have easily been shared with other units, like Parks, that would use them.  

Without a system to centrally manage the planning and acquisition of small equipment, “unnecessary purchases and missed opportunities to reduce small equipment spending” can result, the audit warns. 

Most operating units have not established an inventory for small equipment and operating tools, the costs of which are significant, such as drill sets ranging from hundreds of dollars to ride-on scrubbers that cost as much as $45,000 each.

During council’s February 13th audit committee meeting, Councillor Michael Palleschi said the City needs to find the most cost effective method for managing this type of equipment across the City’s geography and the different departments. 

“I think there’s a balance that needs to be struck here. Do I think that there needs to be a person who knows where every hammer is? No, not necessarily. The drills? Maybe not. Chainsaws? Yeah. As we get into some of the bigger ticket item equipment, I think we need to know what’s happening there,” he said. 

Across the majority of operating departments at the City, there is a lack of tracking. Some use informal methods of signing in/out the assignment of small equipment, although these were also “informally managed” using a small chalkboard or a piece of paper. The audit found an approximately $700-$800 water pump “unused in a recreation storage for over a year, with no records available to trace its origin or borrowing details.” In another case, four generators owned by Park’s Central Operations which cost roughly $1,000 each, as well as one generator from the facility, were “missing” during Internal Audit’s visit. 


The recent audit found most operating units do not use any system to track the movement of expensive tools and City equipment, or use informal mechanisms like a white board or piece of paper.

(City of Brampton Internal Audit)


The ability of operating units to manage theft and misappropriation and make informed purchasing decisions is compromised without a comprehensive inventory and routine tallying of these pieces of equipment, the audit report states. The City also fails to verify receipts of these assets, and on top of a lack of adequate inventory and tracking, there is limited ability to ensure what is purchased remains in good condition. 

A “lack of a standardized process for managing the repair and disposal of small equipment” was also flagged by the audit, which can pose “several risks to the City,” including more costly repairs and “longer operational downtime.” 

The audit compiles a list of action items for the City to implement, including deadlines, most of which are in the fourth quarter of 2024 (some are in Q3 of 2024 and others at the beginning of 2025). Recommendations include establishing a capitalization threshold in the City’s Accounting policies, implementing a process “to ensure that purchases are approved and, wherever applicable, central asset planning is conducted for commonly used small equipment and high dollar value operating tools,” and ensuring small assets are safely stored. 

The City’s Fleet, Roads, Parks and Recreation departments are working to address the issues raised in the audit. 

During the February audit committee meeting, councillors discussed the origin of many of the problems outlined in the report, which date back to the 2017 closure of the City’s Small Engine Shop, which previously managed and inventoried a large portion of the City’s equipment, valued at approximately $2.1 million. Following the shop’s closure, the management of this equipment was decentralized, becoming the responsibility of the various departments. 

“It was a really effective and efficient way of running the shop,” Robert Gasper, the City’s Director of Road Maintenance, Operations and Fleet said. “Everything was inventoried because it was in the shop.”

He went on to say it would make sense to bring this type of centralized system back to Brampton and it would “save us quite a bit of money.”

“I would love to see something like this come back,” said Councillor Dennis Keenan. “It’s about responsibility and accountability for what we have.”

Gasper said the department will be looking to bring a proposal forward during the 2025 budget process for a small engine shop to meet the City’s needs and fix some of these problems. 


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