By Jennifer Inez Ward
The Oakland parking ticket management division has some money problems - at least that's the finding of an audit released Wednesday by City Auditor Courtney Ruby.
In a year-long
investigation, Ruby found several areas with money discrepancies. Many of those
issues centered around unaccounted for money and possible revenue loss.
The audit looked at the management of parking tickets for fiscal year 2010-11. The city's parking ticket division, Ruby said in the report, is holding on to more than $316,000 in overpaid parking tickets from residents and businesses for this period.
Ruby said that the division potentially lost $27,000 due to improperly recorded tickets.
The report also found that the city's previous financial collection system, ACS, often missed key revenue targets. Ruby said the city may have lost thousands of dollars because of their actions or missed benchmarks.
"Had ACS met its promised collection targets, the city would have received an additional $401,000 to $620,500 in parking revenue; instead ACS paid $10,128 in penalties for missing targets," the report says.
But city officials said the audit is off the mark.
"We generally agree with the audit report findings, but you've got to keep it in context," Assistant city administrator Scott Johnson said. "Most of the findings and the issues raised have been resolved or are in the process of being resolved."
Johnson said it is also important to remember the timing of the audit.
"The audit was done when that was a transition to a new system," he said. "During that period, the new system was working with a backlog of 25,000 tickets."
Johnson said that while the city may be holding parking ticket overpayments, the money is sitting in a fund ready for repayment. He said the city makes every effort to track down people who've overpaid.
"The money is there, we haven't allocated it for something else," he said.
Ruby said that for the last couple of years, the parking division has gotten better, particularly since installing a new computer system designed to streamline customer operations.
"Under the old legacy system, approximately 75 percent to 80 percent of ticks were handwritten and took six to eight weeks to enter," the report notes. "As of fiscal year 2010-2011, approximately 2 percent of tickets are handwritten."
The audit report listed 24 recommendations to city officials that include proactively notifying and refunding ticket overpayment to people. The report also recommends that the city consider establishing a separate fund to track unclaimed parking money.
The Parking Ticket Division is a huge revenue source for Oakland. In fiscal year 2010-211, the city issued about 387,000 tickets - nearly a ticket for every resident. Those tickets generated almost $23 million in general fund revenue.