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City Rakes In Money After Pursuing Ignored Parking Tickets

The city of San Diego raked in $185,000 after referring more than 34,000 previously ignored parking citations to collections, a treasury official said today.

An audit of the city's parking administration released two weeks ago revealed that 19 percent of the unpaid tickets that were eligible to go to collections actually had not, at a $2.9 million loss.

In a report to the City Council, City Treasurer Gail Granewich said "we've taken quick action" since auditors found the problems.

According to Revenue Collections Manager DeeDee Alari, those tickets went to collection in March and $185,000 has been paid. Based on historical rates, the city can expect to reap a total of about $1.5 million by the end of the next fiscal year, she said.

The trouble stemmed from an accounting system that did not recognize a code from the Department of Motor Vehicles, Alari said. She said the DMV can collect unpaid citations for the city, but often will not do so if a vehicle's ownership has since been transferred -- especially for a leased car.

According to the audit, the city issued more than 450,000 parking citations in the past fiscal year, bringing in $22.5 million.

The audit also found that training and procedures differed among departments that issue parking tickets, and also among a dozen outside agencies that work with the city on citations, such as the Port of San Diego, the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority and Metropolitan Transit System.

Auditors also determined that 10 of those other agencies are not receiving monthly distributions of citation income as they are supposed to --the payments are being made quarterly -- and the program for replacing old meters is lacking.

Recommendations included sending all eligible tickets to collections, conducting regular data system audits to ensure those tickets are going to collections, and developing a more adequate meter replacement program.

Granewich said she agreed with the 11 recommendations that apply to her office, and has implemented four of them. Two recommendations target other city departments.

The city has 5,276 parking meters, mostly downtown.

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