Pittsburgh Parking Revenue Up, But Concerns Remain Over Meter and Scrap Inventory

Jul 2, 2013

Pittsburgh Controller Michael Lamb released findings of an audit of the Pittsburgh Parking Authority.
Credit Deanna Garcia / 90.5/WESA

Pittsburgh City Controller Michael Lamb has released an audit of the Pittsburgh Parking Authority — and found a bit of a mixed bag.

First, the good news: Lamb said the Parking Authority is mostly in compliance on their contracts and have good policies and procedures which are largely followed. Plus, revenues are up from 2012 amounts.

“On a monthly basis, it’s a 50 percent increase in revenues,” Lamb said. “That’s attributable to a couple of things — one is we did have a rate increase, and secondly, we have the new meters that are making it more convenient and actually enabling us to get more cars parked on some of the streets in the city.”

Now the bad news: Lamb cited three instances that have caused concern. One is with parking meters themselves. The Parking Authority told Lamb’s office they have removed 3,805 meters from across the city as they install multi-vehicle parking kiosks. When auditors conducted an inventory of the warehouse where meters are kept, 380 were missing or unaccounted for. He said there could be a couple of reasons for that.

“It may have been that the count going in was calculated differently than what was in space, maybe they were counting an average of meters in different areas rather than actual counts,” Lamb said. “It’s questionable what happened there, but the one thing that is clear is that there wasn’t proper control over that process.”

Lamb said the entire process was handled by a contractor.

“And so there was really no Parking Authority personnel keeping track of that process,” he said. “They’ve ensured us that as they move into the next phases of this implementation that they will have someone keeping track of those meters so we don’t have any opportunity for theft or fraud moving forward.”

Lamb said he is not suggesting the discrepancy in meter number is due to fraud or theft. There are still 3,033 meters left that will come down to make way for the electronic parking kiosks.

In another instance, scrap was taken from a Parking Authority facility, but no money was received for it.

Lamb said the Authority’s explanation is that it was due to a one-time emergency situation in which poles were falling, so a contractor was brought in to remove them, and the scrap they hauled was their payment. In addition, a parts warehouse was cleaned out, but information on what happened to the items and any money made has not been adequately provided, according to Lamb.

“At the end of the day we’re not talking about huge amounts of money here, but we’re talking about public dollars,” he said, “and with public dollars I think we have to take every available measure to make sure that public property is being handled appropriately.”

Lamb pointed out that his office does not have investigative authority, but he said he has shared all information found with the district attorney’s office.