PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) – The City of Portsmouth is investigating after $80,000 worth of gift cards were unaccounted for.

The gift cards were purchased using American Rescue Plan Funding and were given out in May to senior citizens, qualifying working poor families and students who got the COVID vaccine.

During the city’s recent Public Work Session, council members found accountability for those gift cards is in question.  

“There appears to be approximately $80,000 worth of unaccounted cards, so that matter has been turned over to the appropriate authorities, and we are continuing to investigate on our end,” said Portsmouth City Manager Tonya Chapman.

Portsmouth Councilman Bill Moody became alarmed when Chapman said she was trying to handle the discrepancies in-house before going to independent auditors that could cost the city more money.

“I am just learning about this sitting right here, so I would think we don’t know if there aren’t more gift cards missing,” Moody said. 

Since more people showed up for the gift cards than anticipated back in May, Chapman said there was not a system in place to keep track of the cards.

“It appears there was not a check and balance in place. We didn’t have any documentation. We have been told on the first day of distribution it was kind of ad hoc, but on the second day there was more of a check and balance in place,” explained Chapman.

It appears the accounting for the $100 and $500 gift cards has become a bureaucratic mess. 

“There appears to be some improprieties the way the process was administered, the way the cards were administer,” Chapman said.

Former Deputy City Manager Mimi Terry says she was home listening to the work session when she decided she need to make an appearance at the council meeting to defend herself.

“The gift cards are now sitting in several places with no accountability or internal control. Several third parties hold them, Social Services, Police and the city Treasurer,” Terry said.

Terry also told WAVY that after all is said and done; she is confident the unaccounted-for gift cards will be accounted for. 

In an email to 10 On Your Side, City Spokesman Peter Glagola said the city is diligently working on this investigation

“We are currently doing a due diligence review of the gift card program. This review is anticipated to be complete by January 2023,” Glagols said. “At that time, we will share information and answer your questions about the program and any discrepancies identified.”