Chick: Millions sit idle

City Controller Laura Chick's latest audit dings the Department of Transportation for letting $5 million collected from developers as "traffic mitigation funds" go unused. "There is something very wrong with this picture," she says in a press release. Chick also says that $7.8 million in parking revenue is being mishandled. Release follows.

CHICK AUDIT FINDS MILLIONS IN TRANSPORTATION FUNDS SITTING UNUSED

Los Angeles - Citing millions of public dollars earmarked for transportation, sitting unused, City Controller Laura Chick is calling for, "An effective integrated strategic plan that links together all of these valuable resources to keep the people of Los Angles moving."
Chick released an audit of the City's Transportation Improvement and Mitigation Funds as well as the Special Parking Revenue Fund. The Los Angeles Department of Transportation oversees 81 special revenue funds with a total cash balance of $365 million (as of June 30, 2005).
"The City has created special traffic mitigation funds, through the collection of developer fees, to build projects to ease traffic in the most congested areas. My audit found that several of these funds, totaling over $5 million, are just sitting there, gathering dust. There is something very wrong with this picture," said Chick.
"In the Special Parking Revenue Fund (with an account balance of $90 million) we again discovered unused monies totaling $7.8 million, designated for projects that have already been completed or eliminated," said Chick.
"We have a traffic crisis in this city that will continue to get worse if we don't utilize every dollar available to us to improve traffic in a dramatic way," said President Pro Tem Wendy Greuel, Chair of the City Council's Transportation Committee. "Controller Chick's audit asks the tough questions and provides a roadmap for us to seek the solutions that will get this city moving again."
The audit found:
* Several traffic mitigation funds, with an available balance of $5.4 million, have been inactive for several years and there are no specific plans to utilize the monies in these funds.
* LADOT continues to re-appropriate money to projects that have already been closed with a balance of $7.8 million.
* LADOT does not budget for each of its mitigation funds.
* LADOT field offices do not make timely deposits.
* LADOT's contract with the Grand Central Parking Garage contractor is unclear with respect to the City's obligation for parking related expenses. The contractor may have been over-reimbursed by as much as $472,000.
* LADOT continues to re-appropriate money to projects that have already been closed.
Overwhelmingly elected to a second term in March, Chick has worked diligently with the mandate of the City Charter to save taxpayer dollars, improve City services, eliminate waste and open the City's books. The audit of the Department of Transportation can be accessed on Chick's website at www.lacity.org/ctr.


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