Two weeks ago I met with City Auditor Laura Doud. We meet periodically to discuss how we can find revenue to balance our budget without raising taxes. Laura told me that she was getting ready to release her audit which again found that the City is not collecting owed parking citations. In fact, currently the City is owed $18 million in uncollected parking citations.
This is particularly disturbing on several levels:
- The City Auditor told the City Council in 2009 that $11 million in outstanding parking citations had not been collected. A pilot program to use parking boots was approved (as is used in many cities to get the attention of those who have 5 or more parking tickets) and the Council asked for updates both on the pilot and how improvements were to be made in the collection system. Didn't happen.
- Problems in a collections system means that there are problems in the billing system.
- There have been serious cuts to core city services made to balance the city budget and very little effort to make certain that the City is receiving every dollar it is entitled to receive from citations, fees and contracts - even after the City Auditor has pointed out that hasn't been done.
- Citizens should not be penalized with cuts in city services while the city fails to do its job collecting revenue that it is owed.
So here's what needs to be done about the uncollected parking tickets:
- The City needs to contract out for billing and collection services for parking citations, ambulance and paramedic services now. The City might want to consider selling some of this uncollected revenue to a factoring agency who can pay the City a percentage of the amounts owed.
In my discussions with the City Auditor (and during council meetings) I have called for the City Council to direct the City Manager to:
- Request Southern California Edison to perform an audit of all electrical meters on city property to verify that the meters are accurate. (When I was a Trustee at Long Beach City College I requested the same audit and it resulted in a hefty refund that was used to defray the costs of employee health care.)
- Implement an automated time and attendance system that keeps track of the City's 4500 employees and lets management know who is at work, if an employee leaves early, did the employee take lunch, when the employee leaves. That's right folks. Right now the city tracks time and attendance manually with time sheets that are filled out manually at the end of a work week.