Nearly two dozen city departments have improperly managed $1.5 million in petty cash, an audit by the City Controller's Office found.

Controller Alan Butkovitz said Wednesday that there are widespread accounting issues in managing petty cash, and called on Finance Director Rob Dubow to implement training for all city departments.

"We found improper disbursements, commingling of funds, unauthorized approvals and inadequate reconciliations," Butkovitz said in a statement. "With more than a million dollars in cash flowing through 42 city agencies, there needs to be better accountability."

City spokesman Mike Dunn said the Kenney administration has been "working with departments to ensure compliance with proper procedures for handling petty cash."

"We thank the controller for his recommendations," Dunn said.

The Controller's Office found the petty cash problem while auditing all city departments and agencies for fiscal year 2015, which ended June 30, 2015, when Mayor Michael A. Nutter was in office. The full 188-page audit was released Wednesday.

The purpose of petty cash is to provide departments with sufficient cash for minor expenditures such as postage, subscriptions, licensing fees, and other items under $500, the controller said.

The audit said that the Office of Fleet Management circumvented the petty cash expenditure limit by splitting a $2,000 payment into four payments of $500 to replenish an E-ZPass account. In addition, the Controller's Office said, Fleet Management was unable to provide E-ZPass logs that record usage of transponders by the Mayor's Office and Police Department vehicles.

Other petty cash issues included the Department of Public Health's not reconciling petty cash in a timely manner and not having proper documentation for expenditures. For example, the department reimbursed an employee $100 for training with petty cash, but did not have a receipt from the employee verifying that the employee paid for the courses.

The controller also noted that the Sheriff's Office has yet to recover $10,000 that was spent in previous years under former Sheriff John Green. "Our current year testing found the $10,000 of petty cash funds remained missing," the audit said.

"With a problem this rampant among the majority of city agencies, the Finance Office needs to provide training workshops immediately to address the issues with agency heads," Butkovitz said.

215-854-5520

@InqCVargas