Erroneous parking tickets cost city $190,000, inspector general says

Meg Farris talks about a report released by the Inspector General about how much money erroneous parking tickets cost the city.

NEW ORLEANS -- If you got a parking ticket recently, you may be in for a refund.

That's because investigators found that thousands of tickets had mistakes when they were written by parking enforcement officers; mistakes that will cost the city a few hundred thousand dollars.

Parking tickets are frustrating when you know you were parked illegally, but even more so if you did nothing wrong.

"Every one of these (erroneous tickets) is due to human error," said Howard Schwartz, Assistant Special Agent in Charge of Investigations in the City of New Orleans Inspector General's Office.

The inspector general's office found mistakes in approximately 8,900 parking citations issued last year. License plate numbers were in the wrong order, dates and times on tickets were sometimes years off, and delivery trucks that had permits to stop and unload were ticketed.

"They should not be ticketed, but no one communicated that at the time to the parking enforcement officers," explained Schwartz.

Ticket revenue goes to fund all city services such as police, parks, infrastructure and sanitation. The mistakes will cost the city.

"Matter of fact, it costs the city $24.65 to dismiss a $30 parking ticket," said Schwartz.

The city said it already has a fix in place. The company that handles the collections has changed the software so dates and times will be automatically downloaded. Three pictures of the car, license plate and violation will be taken on the scene, and plate numbers will be cross referenced to see if it matches the vehicle in the picture before a citation is sent. Delivery trucks with permits that are part of the fleet management program, and are written up on the streets, will have their citations kicked out of the system.

"It's going to make things more efficient on our end, better operations for the public, eliminate some of the errors that we are seeing now," said Lt. Col. Mark Jernigan, Director of Public Works for the City of New Orleans.

The fixes could mean at least an additional $400,000 in revenue. The city said the erroneous tickets are only around two percent of the nearly 400,000 tickets written. But New Orleans Citizens for Fair Parking believes the parking rate hikes were implemented too fast for proper training, and hurt citizens.

"They are just getting reimbursed the ticket price. They're not getting reimbursed time and inconvenience, the time they have to take away from work," said Chris Lane with New Orleans Citizens for Fair Parking.

The 30 parking enforcement officers go through six weeks of training and refresher training. This new system will cut down on human error and point how who needs more training.

To get your erroneous ticket dismissed, you can go to City Hall or do it online with all the proper documents.

Click here for city parking information.

(© 2016 WWL)


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