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Controller asks L.A. council to change secrecy of parking taxes

August 9, 2012 |  4:18 pm

Los Angeles City Controller Wendy Greuel wants the council to change a rule that blocks her from auditing parking lot taxes

Los Angeles City Controller Wendy Greuel on Thursday called on Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and the City Council to change a law that bars her from auditing the taxes paid by owners of parking lots and garages across the city.

In a letter to Villaraigosa and the council, Greuel said the city’s Office of Finance has blocked her from gaining access to such records, pointing to a law that designates such information as confidential.

Greuel, who is running for mayor, also complained that the finance office does not have an accurate inventory of private parking lots and garages, hampering efforts to collect tens of millions of dollars in taxes owed to the city.

“We’re trying ... to make sure we’re getting money owed to us. Without looking at specific examples we can’t do that,” she said. “Are they being charged the right amount? Are they paying the right amount? All of that we can’t tell without having access to the right information.”

Parking tax revenue generates about $85 million annually and makes up 2% of the city's general fund, which pays for police officers, firefighters and other basic services. Greuel said the department does not have enough auditors to monitor parking lots in the city.

L.A. has approximately 1,900 parking lots registered with the city. Neither the Office of Finance nor the company that it hired to identify unregistered lots has conducted a citywide survey to identify each taxable parking lot, Greuel's auditors found.

The Office of Finance referred questions to Villaraigosa's office, which did not immediately provide a response.

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-- David Zahniser at Los Angeles City Hall

Photo: Los Angeles City Controller Wendy Greuel in 2011. Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times

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