Or in the case of the city of L.A., not collecting on them. An audit by Controller Wendy Greuel finds that only 53 percent of the money owed on parking citations was collected, money that presumably could have been used to avoid layoffs. This is a familiar refrain (or charade) by elected officials trying to show everyone how fiscally responsible they are. From the LAT:
The audit, which looked at fiscal year 2008-09, showed that only 53% of some $553 million in city billings were collected. That's a loss of $260 million annually--enough, said City Councilman Paul Koretz, to have helped fill a budget gap that has led to hundreds of layoffs, reduced library hours and other service cuts. "We need to do better, because otherwise the situation is grim," said Koretz, who chairs the council's audits and governmental efficiency committee and joined Greuel at a press conference outside City Hall. "There's a sword of Damocles that hangs heavy over countless city employees who fear their jobs might be the next ones lost."
Is he kidding with that sword of Damocles stuff? Look, I'm sure the city could do a better job, but good luck getting anywhere close to that $260 million. Governments run into the same problem as businesses when it comes to chasing after deadbeats: It's an expensive game. The higher you want that collection rate to be, the more money you're likely to shell out in fees. And some of the miscreants are out of reach at any price. So while Greuel's audit will make for a good headline, the reality is something else.
*In a letter to city officials, Greuel says, "There is no question that not all of this money is ultimately collectable for a variety of reasons, but it is outrageous and unacceptable that the City has not made more progress." Here's the link.