I-Team 10 Investigation: Parking bureau problems
Posted at: 07/12/2012 6:08 PM
| Updated at: 07/13/2012 12:26 PM
By: Brett Davidsen | WHEC.com
The city's parking bureau director is under fire after a scathing audit found trouble with collections at city-owned parking garages.
I-Team 10 has obtained a copy of the audit summary, which found that some people were being allowed to park for free while others may not have been getting billed properly by the city.
City Hall is expected to make a formal statement about the situation on Friday.
When city parking bureau employee Damon Finegan was arrested in May and charged with misconduct, it was apparently just the tip of the iceberg.
I-Team 10 has learned the city's Office of Public Integrity has been conducting a sweeping audit of the entire parking bureau operations and has uncovered major issues.
Sue Olley is the director of the parking bureau. City Hall would not confirm her employment status Thursday afternoon.
City Councilwoman Carolee Conklin says, "I think it's fair to say that it definitely has everybody's attention."
Conklin couldn't speak about Olley's status, but did receive a copy of the audit summary. "It's a lack of accounting controls and cash controls and I think that after a year and a half, we should have developed some sounder policies," Conklin says.
That summary focuses specifically on the High Falls parking garage. It found the bureau didn't bill business for validations in a timely manner, gave free parking to city enforcement officers and customer service personnel, and didn't deposit cash collections in a timely manner.
The investigation also uncovered that the bureau lost track of which keycard users had paid their monthly bills. Without proper reconciliation, some of those keycard users could have parked in the garage indefinitely without paying.
All of that is just one of seven city-owned garages.
Olley was brought in by former Mayor Bob Duffy in 2009 to handle to consolidation of the bureau of parking, which brought the parking lots and garages, meter collections and ticket enforcement under one roof. Olley also led the efforts to bring in pay stations to replace the old single-space meters.
I-Team 10 checked into Olley's past and discovered that just before relocating to Rochester, she held the same position in West Palm Beach, Florida. She left though, shortly after an audit there found problems with cash collections asset protection and record keeping.
I-Team 10 was unable to reach Olley for comment.
What the audit has thus far been unable to determine is how much money the city may have failed to collect in parking fees.
"I think it's important that OPI continue on with their assessment of the other city garages and see if we have an overall problem or one that's very localized to High Falls," Councilwoman Conklin says.
All of this isn't the end of it. I-Team 10 has learned the audit is also delving into vendor contracts as well as possible instances of ticket fixing within the parking bureau.
All of this comes just after the mayor pressed City Council to approve increases in parking garage rates as part of his annual budget.
Attached to the audit summary is a two-page letter from Olley's boss. He chalked up the keycard issues to an ongoing software problem the bureau was having. As they shifted their focus on clearing that up, he says the validation billings fell behind. He says those are now done on a monthly basis.