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If you contact Gerrie Schipske through this site on any matter pertaining to the City of Long Beach, a copy of your contact will be forwarded to her official city email as an official public record.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Schipske Now Questions if Total Uncollected Parking Tickets Tops $29 million

Closeup of parking violation sticker.Closeup of parking violation sticker. Used in some cities to warn those with excess tickets they will be towed. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)Councilwoman Schipske Notes That Auditor’s Report on $17.6 million in Unpaid Parking Tickets Only Addresses Last 3 Years – Prior Audit Shows An Additional $11.7 million – Asks if this means City is owed $29.3 million

Long Beach, CA – March 29, 2012 – Following the release of the City Auditor Laura Doud’s audit on unpaid parking tickets, Councilwoman Gerrie Schipske issued the following statement:

“Today, City Auditor Laura Doud and Mayor Bob Foster held a joint press conference to discuss the City Auditor’s findings on the mess the city has with uncollected parking tickets. It is unfortunate that City Council members were not invited to a press conference which addresses a City Council agenda item. It was also not appropriate that the City Council was not given a copy of the written findings before such findings were released to the press.

“Now that the written findings are available there appears to be a glaring question that needs to be answered because the City Auditor has actually released two audits on uncollected parking citations that include different time periods and both showing separate amounts owed to the City. As a result, the City may be actually owed $29.3 million in uncollected parking tickets and not just the current $17.6 million dollars included in the current audit.
“Here’s why: the current audit shows $17.6 million dollars in uncollected parking tickets that are 3 years old or less. That would cover the time period of 2008-2011. The City Auditor’s prior audit on uncollected parking citations completed in 2008 covered the years of 2003-2007 and indicated that $11.7 million was owed by those having 5 or more tickets. The question is then: What happened to the $11.7 million owed for the period of 2004-2007 and if the City has now acquired an additional $17.6 million in uncollected tickets then the total outstanding should be: $29.3 million dollars.

Following my blog on this topic I have been contacted by numerous companies who are willing to work with the City to straighten out this mess and to bill and to collect at a much higher percentage than we seem to be able to do in-house. In fact, a representative from one company, Vion Municipal Capital in Milford, Massachusetts contacted me today to tell me his company had offered to purchase our uncollected parking tickets which would give the city immediate revenue, but apparently was told the city ‘wasn’t interested.’

Well, the City needs to ‘get interested’ so that we do not continue cutting core services in order to balance a budget. Unless and until we examine our internal operating processes and determine that we are billing and collecting every penny of revenue the City in entitled to receive, we can no longer keep telling the taxpayers that the services they pay for with their taxes need to be cut.”
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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

City Auditor Finds $18 Million in Uncollected Parking Tickets -- Schipske Calls for Fixing Problem Now

Parking ticket in Cambridge (2008-04-01)
Parking ticket for parking on the main road in...Dear Readers,

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.   

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