An independent audit of Greenbelt Homes Incorporated (GHI), indicates there was a breakdown in the 1,600-unit cooperative's purchasing system and that more than $24,000 worth of fertilizer, fuel oil additive and insulation material may have been wasted or stolen.

The audit, conducted by Wills and Associates of Annapolis, was commissioned in September after the cooperative's audit committee found that more than twice as much money had been spent in the grounds maintenance section as had been budgeted.

At that time, the general manager announced that the grounds division had spent $44,052, more than twice its $21,000 budget for 1978.

Following the recent release of the independent audit report, the cooperative's board of directors appointed a five-member ad hoc committee to study the grounds maintenance budget.

"What we want to do is look further into the audit report," said Joseph Jenkins, chairman of the ad hoc committee. "We'll try to come to grips with the facts and see if there was any improprietous activity."

In its report, Wills and Associates notes that "Greenbelt Homes Inc.'s purchase order form was generally typed and approved after the Chemicals Systems Corp.'s (the supply company) invoice was received. Also, the receipt of material was never physically verified by warehouse employes."

According to the auditors, overpurchases of fertilizer, fuel oil additive and insulation materials followed the breakdown of the purchase order system. They concluded that a third more fertilizer was bought than was needed for the cooperative's recreational green space.

Moreover, the auditiors estimated it would have taken 260 hours to spread all of the fertilizer, but they found that only 70 hours worth of labor distribution tickets had been used for that purpose.

Other estimates revealed that twice as much fuel oil additive, or $11,000 more than needed, had been purchased. An additional $10,000 was lost when the maintenance department bought 97,000 square feet of extra insulation for crawl spaces.

Finally, the audit found examples of major purchases of fuel oil additive, fertilizer, and other supplies from the Chemical Systems Corp. in 1977 and in 1978, and hardly any purchases of the same materials in 1979. The grounds maintenance division spent $39,187 on materials from Chemical Systems in 1977 and $41,266 in 1978, but only $4,950 this year.

"In conclusion we suggest after the content of this report is throughly reviewed that a special committee be formed to make inquiries and clear the air, so to speak, of all apparent noted discrepancies," the report said in closing.

Management officials at Greenbelt Homes questioned the accuracy of the report, arguing that the auditors underestimated the actual amounts of fertilizer, fuel oil additive and insulation that were needed for the cooperative. For example, they have said the fertilizer was used at full strength on the grounds, not mixed as is usually done.

"I don't see any discrepancies," said Royal Breashears, general manager of GHI. "I see poor judgment, but I don't see any discrepancies."

Breashears said three persons had been fired in the past year -- one from purchasing and two members of the grounds crew -- and added, "I'm not at all pleased with what was done. If I could find any other responsible people, their heads would roll too."

A study done for Breashears by a former manager of GHI concluded that a breakdown in purchasing procedures had indeed occured and some incompetence was shown in the use of the three products, but that much of the gap could be attributed to auditors' estimates of how much of the materials was actually needed.

The ad hoc committee handling the follow-up investigation has set no deadline for completion of its work.

"When we finish depends on what we uncover, if anything," said committee chairman Jenkins.