An audit concludes some people who live in homes owned by the state of Wisconsin got a break on their rent.
The report from the Legislative Audit Bureau looked at 146 properties managed either by the University of Wisconsin System or by the state's Department of Natural Resources.
The audit found that in many cases, rents haven't been raised in years, and some employees didn't pay rent at all in some months.
“We will definitely be working with these state agencies to bring these properties and their policies back into statutory compliance," Sen. Senator Robert Cowles, R-Green Bay, said. "The fact that this audit is the result from a tip made to the Waste, Fraud, and Mismanagement Hotline proves we need to continue to look at all aspects of state government to maintain accountability, but that sometimes we need others to report the government waste and abuse that they see."
Most of the DNR homes are in state parks, while most of the homes owned by the UW System are at research stations across the state. Faculty and staff members live in those.
Auditors say the average monthly rent for someone living in a UW-owned home in 2018 was $338. The audit says if those rates are not adjusted, the university will miss out on $24,000 in rent in 2019.
It's a similar situation at DNR. Auditors say the average rent for a DNR-owned home was $347 between 2016 and 2018. The audit says if those rates are not updated, the state will miss out on $38,900 in rent in 2019.
“In this case, the Audit Bureau found a decades-long inattentiveness that spanned three agencies across multiple administrations. I’m appreciative of the people who contact the hotline and the opportunity it creates for investigating and improving state government," Rep. Samantha Kerkman, R-Salem Lakes, said.
Both DNR and the UW System also say they appreciate the audit's findings, and both are promising to work with the state to correct the issues.