Southern California -- this just in

« Previous Post | L.A. NOW Home | Next Post »

L.A. losing millions of dollars on uncollected parking tickets, other fines and fees, audit shows

On a day when Los Angeles laid off more than 200 employees, a new audit released Thursday revealed that the city is losing tens of millions of dollars in revenue because of collection practices that barely capture half of parking ticket fines and other fees.

"I don't know of any business that would stand for such a low collection rate," said City Controller Wendy Greuel, who released the audit of six departments -- police, fire, housing, transportation, sanitation and building and safety. "It's simply not sustainable, and the city cannot and should not allow this to continue."

The audit, which looked at fiscal year 2008-09, showed that only 53% of some $553 million in city billings were collected. That's a loss of $260 million annually—enough, said City Councilman Paul Koretz, to have helped fill a budget gap that has led to hundreds of layoffs, reduced library hours and other service cuts.

Among the most "egregious" examples, the city auditor said, were parking citations and Emergency Management Services billing accounts. The city only collected 53% of the money it is owed on parking citations, the audit found, and 38% owed in emergency service billings.

"We need to do better, because otherwise the situation is grim," said Koretz, who chairs the council's audits and governmental efficiency committee and joined Greuel at a press conference outside City Hall. "There's a sword of Damocles that hangs heavy over countless city employees who fear their jobs might be the next ones lost."

The audit is a follow-up to a similar study three years ago. The city controller found some improvement, but said it was "outrageous and unacceptable" that Los Angeles had not made more progress.

Under-collection of revenue is a problem at every level of government, and officials acknowledge that not all billings are ultimately collectible. For instance, some vehicle owners will never pay their tickets, while indigent patients may never reimburse the city for ambulance fees. How Los Angeles' collection rate compares to other cities was not known, the controller said.

However, Greuel said there was ample room for improvement, and pushed for several reforms. Among her recommendations were the creation of a centralized billing process and a mandate that police and fire departments expeditiously refer delinquent accounts to outside collection agencies.

-- Patrick J. McDonnell

Photo by Al Seib / Los Angeles Times

Comments () | Archives (89)

Maybe if they didn't give out so many bogus parking tickets in the first place.

rickn6900 SHHHHHHH. those meters have been broken for years! ;)

and omg people, is EVERYTHING related to illegals?!?! it's not all their fault in this case. there are plenty of americans who don't pay their bills too.

is that why they sent me to collection on a parking ticket I had already paid it TWICE (the second time under duress because I wouldn't have been able to receive my license tabs)?

I live in century city and every day 15 work trucks belonging to non english speaking workers of hispanic origin are parked on my street with out parking permits or license plates. the parking enforcment officer wastes no time ticketing any other vehicle and told me that even though there is no exemption for them he cuts them a break. I wonder if it matters that the officer was hispanic or not? I wonder if that is racism? I wonder if this goes on all over the city? I bet it does...

Los Angeles doesn't get it. It has a mayor that panders to illegal aliens and forks over money to them left and right and then can't understand why people won't pay parking tickets to a city that gives away its money to people who don't earn it.

Boot them and impound them. Tired of people who think laws apply to everyone except them.


The headline should read,

To increase revenue LA should put a lot more parking meters out there that don't register the money you feed into them.

LA is run by idiots. The LA mayor is an idiot. LA is an illegal sanctuary.

It's all of the illegals. They don't have licenses or insurance. They get tickets but there is no way to collect the money from these people. They just disappear if they get into any kind of trouble. A friend of mine was in an accident the other day. A car hit him from behind forcing him to slam into the car in front of him. The two other drivers in the accident were both illegal and the cops didn't do anything. Now my friends insurance will probably go up and those illegals will move on with no punishment.

Yeah, lets have the overpaid & underworked public employees collect it, that obviously hasn't worked. The accounts should be transferred to a third party collection agency for resolution. At least the private companies have that little "for profit" problem to deal with, you'd be surprised what a motivating factor that is. If these public agencies had to compete with private industry for their jobs, they'd lose everytime. Private industry can do it faster, cheaper & more efficiently, and they don't adopt their employees. Lets boot these clowns in the unions and get to being profitable, instead of catering to their every whim as we do currently. If there was no union to pay for their campaigns maybe they wouldn't feel so obligated to give away the farm every election to the unions. Being able to fill out one form, and only one form, should not entitle you to $50 an hour and full retirement after 20 years. Make these public employees pay for their retirement,just like private industry, make them accountable when their departments aren't profitable, and get rid of those who can't handle the responsibility. Private industry has been making this work for a long time and we don't operate with 19 billion dollar budget gaps. Less than 50% of our public employees are even needed, but they can't tell that because they don't manage anything. Maybe some of these supervisors should be fired, not transferred, for failing to make their goals (just like in the real world). But they'll never reach this conclusion, because it would require management and oversite. What is supposed to motivate these public employees? In the private industry we have that profit thing to be accountable to. In public agencies their only accountability is to exhausting their budget every year to ensure it doesn't get smaller next year. Business needs competetion; without it you get exactly what we have now (over paid under performing people with no motivation to do their jobs well).

A lot of great comments except the first one.

What I got out of this was how not too long ago there was another report of how many police officers have hundreds of parking tickets unpaid. Tickets given while they are off duty.

Not above the law pay your tickets.

C&D letter doesn't mean it can't affect your personal credit for 7 yrs.

What good will a collections agency do when trying to collect from illegal aliens or the homeless? With no SSN, address, checking account, or phone number how do they expect to contact or collect from them.

Why would Illegals pay fines????? Their cars are not registered, don't have licenses, and sure as hell aren't going to pay for medical expenses. I hope we all know by now they they are decimating our health system as they are not obligated to pay for services.

Just another example of how law abiding citizens will end up picking up the tab (or loosing jobs), and the government as usual will avoid at all cost common sense and looking that real problems. One step closer to LA turning into Mexico. La RAZA!!!!

It's criminal that they rely on revenue from tickets for anything.
Tickets revenue should balance the costs needed to enforce the laws, and
not a penny more.

As to collection, well, it would not surprise me in the least that in a city
with so many people who are "undocumented" that you do not get the
tickets paid. I've seen enough vehicles that do not get insured because the
cost of the insurance exceeds the value of the vehicle. For the cost of the
5 or 6 tickets you probably could pay for another car.

LA is law breaker sanctuary.

yea sure lets send more cops out there with radar guns to help fill the budget gap! Like others mentioned tickets are not and SHOULD NOT be considered a form of revenue to rely on by the city. It's shocking the city officials turn their backs on what is CLEARLY a form of robbery. I'm glad people aren't paying for these ridiculous tickets and hope more people stop paying until the city adjusts their attitude towards its own citizens, and their ABSURD costs for these BS tickets.

Are you kidding??? "Indigents". They are illegal aliens is the real term that they are afraid of using. Ambulance fees have cost jobs (the city has to pay the ambulance company) and emergency rooms-(hospitals have closed many, many emergency rooms in the state due to doctors and staff being paid and no money being paid by the illegals). This is insane. But, regular Joe's pay for the taxes and lose their jobs. We Hispanics should be disgusted with ourselves. We appear completely unlawful to the rest of the nation. Letting go of 200 employees. No problem. Keep boycotting Arizona, who is simply following the law. We are the disgusting ones here in CA. We should be boycotted. STUPID Politicians of California.

well to tell all of you the truth everybody needs to pay there bills and that is that. i work as a bill collector and this is a prime example of the city not following the guide lines that they put in place. dont get mad at the bill collector who calls to collect the money that you owe just pay it you owe it.

i see the ignoramii are out in force today.

So we should save city jobs by fining citizens? Great idea. Let's sit on every street corner and give tickets to everyone. You can cite people on just about anything. Nobody ever completely stops at stop signs.

Why don't the people who are losing their jobs go back to school or get training in another field? Why are we rewarding laziness?

I can't believe the parking tickets are left uncollected considering most cities forward them to DMV and you can't register your car until you pay them. Maybe they should start with looking at what other cities are doing, and maybe, just maybe, implement what others have been doing for years.

They laid off the cashiers. The could balance the budget if the just collected the city taxes on all of the Mayor's free event tickets. All politicians from top to bottom are stupid and inefficient at running the public trust. If they ran our public business like they do their personal business we would have no defecits.

« | 1 2 3 4 | »


Recommended on Facebook


In Case You Missed It...


About L.A. Now
L.A. Now is the Los Angeles Times’ breaking news section for Southern California. It is produced by more than 80 reporters and editors in The Times’ Metro section, reporting from the paper’s downtown Los Angeles headquarters as well as bureaus in Costa Mesa, Long Beach, San Diego, San Francisco, Sacramento, Riverside, Ventura and West Los Angeles.
Have a story tip for L.A. Now?
Please send to newstips@latimes.com
Can I call someone with news?
Yes. The city desk number is (213) 237-7847.


Get Alerts on Your Mobile Phone

Sign me up for the following lists: