Friday, 20 January 2012 00:00
Nassau County Comptroller George Maragos released his Traffic and Parking Violations Agency (TPVA) audit conducted at the request of Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano and Executive Director Judge John Marks. Since taking over the agency on Jan. 26, 2010 Judge John Marks has implemented a number of initiatives to improve collections through improved management effectiveness. The audit found that the improvements already implemented are a step in the right direction but more needs to be done to collect the large backlog of unpaid parking and traffic tickets, especially the rising number of unpaid Red Light Camera fines. Also, while auditors found no instances of ticket fixing, more safeguards are needed to prevent future fraud.
“Our taxpayers need to have assurances that they are part of a fair system where everyone is treated equally and tickets are not being dismissed or, perhaps, changed improperly,” Maragos said. “The current administration has addressed this issue by limiting access to the system and establishing security profiles which limit system access to only assigned personnel functions. The growing backlog of unpaid tickets is an urgent issue that requires more aggressive collection efforts.”
“I want to thank Comptroller Maragos for conducting an audit of the County’s Traffic and Parking Violations Agency,” said Mangano. “Our residents deserve a fair and efficient system and that is what we intend to continue implementing. In the near future, our residents will see additional collection measures taken for those egregious offenders who have multiple unpaid tickets. I am happy this report recognizes our efforts to date ensuring that we are heading in the right direction.”
As of Dec. 31, 2010 the agency had $44 million in uncollected traffic violation fines dating back 10 years and $26 million in uncollected parking violations in the last six years. The Red Light Camera past due tickets are estimated at over $10 million as of Dec. 31, 2011. Most concerning is the rapid rising volume of unpaid Red Light Camera tickets which grew from 7,884 as of December 31, 2009 to 46,862 as of December 31, 2010 to 107,841 as of May 31, 2011. A more aggressive collection program is obviously required.
The possibility of ticket fixing continued to be a threat despite previous audit findings that anyone with access to the current computer system could change violation codes in individual tickets, impacting fines and dispositions, including dismissals. To TPVA’s credit the access control weaknesses were immediately resolved as recommended in the comptroller’s audit report and employees now have security profiles which limit their system access to only their assigned functions.
A new computer system scheduled to begin operating in June 2013 will enhance ticket collections, management oversight, ticket fixing security, and automate the default judgment process.
Other improvements TPVA has implemented to increase collection of violations include notifying the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles electronically on a weekly basis to suspend driver’s licenses of motorists who do not answer their traffic violations and to suspend registration renewals for parking scofflaws. There is also an anticipated Boot and Tow Program that will be implemented.
“We have made significant efforts to improve collections at TPVA and to streamline management,” stated TPVA Executive Director Judge John Marks. “We recognize that considerable challenges lie ahead to modernize the agency and ensure that we collect every dollar. We have already implemented many of the comptroller’s recommendations and will continue to do so to ensure that we collect every dollar due the county.”
The audit identified the following additional initiatives that should be implemented to improve collections, safeguard assets and improve management oversight:
• Speed up the implementation of the new IT system replacing Compucourt sooner than June 2013;
• Demand that the Red Light Camera vendor improve reporting of receivables, dismissals and collections, including the automatic generation of an aged outstanding receivable report;
• Implement management review of cash receipt reconciliation errors;
• Implement greater security for entrance into the TPVA employee areas;
• Provide greater segregation of duties among TPVA employees to ensure that errors or irregularities are swiftly found and corrected.
“We are pleased that the executive director and the administration have reacted positively to the recommendations and have taken immediate steps to improve collections and management oversight,” Maragos added. “It is critical that every dollar is collected in order to protect our taxpayers.”