5/21/2012Virginia: County Auditor Calls for Parking Ticket Quotas
Auditor in Fairfax County, Virginia recommends stepping up the parking ticket quota for meter maids.
Just outside the nation's capital, Fairfax County, Virginia depends heavily on motorists to prop up its annual budget. Speed traps help generate $7.7 million in revenue through the courts and another $3.1 million from parking citations. In a quarterly report to the board of supervisors, the county Office of Financial and Program Audit (OFPA) raised the alarm that meter maids have not sufficiently productive.
"The decline in parking citations is also reflected in the traffic division's parking enforcement budget measures," the audit report explained. "Specifically, the traffic division parking unit's budget performance measures decreased from 504 tickets per 10,000 registered vehicles in 2006 to 298.4 tickets per 10,000 registered vehicles in 2011. We also noted an overall $175,389 decrease in parking ticket revenues from $3,304,380 in 2006 to $3,128,991 in 2011. The potential reduction in parking ticket revenues related to the decrease in citations was mitigated by the increase in parking fines and expanded parking ordinances in fiscal year 2010."
The county employs 18 full-time meter maids, but police officers, fire marshals and police volunteers are all expected to help. Duncan Solutions, a private vendor, handles processing, billing and adjudication of tickets in return for a cut of the profits that totaled $1,075,000 in 2010. The company's "AutoProcess" software creates a chart tracking which police districts generate the most citations over time. The current champion is the Mason District with 8088 citations, but five years ago it was the Fair Oaks District with 4839 tickets.
The most profitable citations are for slightly expired license or inspection stickers, which generated 29,994 tickets last year. This is followed by 8552 citations for violating a no parking sign. A total of 719 of the 61,719 tickets were issued for illegally parking in a handicapped spot. The auditor is concerned that some meter maids are spending time up to 40 percent of their time on activities other than ticketing that benefit the community.
"Parking enforcement officers perform a wide range of duties," the auditor explained. "For example, they testify at court hearings, address citizen inquiries and complaints, transport and operate speed radar trailers, work at child seat safety check events, serve as crossing guards, direct traffic at various functions, transport vehicles to the repair shop, transport property and evidence, perform administrative and courier duties for the police department, and work with other agencies and county departments as needed."
In addition, two meter maid positions are currently unfilled. Each meter maid is expected to issue a minimum of 2500 tickets per year. The auditor highlighted the prospects of a new Metro line opening and the designation of community parking districts as an opportunity to generate more citations. The auditor also called for vigilante ticketing.
"To help enhance parking enforcement activities, the police department should consider expanding the use of volunteers," the report recommended. "Although the police department has established a volunteer program to assist with regular police duties (including writing parking tickets), the department has not established a dedicated unit of volunteers for parking enforcement."
The report is available in a 570k PDF file at the source link below.