By Daniel Lovering
(Reuters) - An employee of Rhode Island's financially strapped capital has discovered 186 undeposited checks totaling some $334,000 in a box at the city's Department of Inspection and Standards.
The Providence city worker found the checks - ranging from $5 to $114,000 - last week in a box that was never unpacked, possibly due to money-saving staff cuts, a spokesman for the mayor said on Thursday.
"The office relocated several months ago, and apparently the box was never unpacked," said David Ortiz, press secretary for Mayor Angel Taveras.
The checks, which were meant for deposit in the city coffers to pay for fire department inspections and permit fees, may have been misplaced as a result of understaffing, said Ortiz, who noted that the department's work force had been reduced by more than 15 percent in the past year.
That cost-cutting measure was taken by the city when it was facing a $110 million budget deficit. Providence currently has a deficit of about $22 million but is expected to run out of cash in June, Ortiz said.
The city will promptly deposit the checks that are still valid, but others will have to be reissued since they were signed more than a year ago.
(Editing by Anthony Boadle)