CARS HOMES JOBS

Scotia tightens up accounting of parking fine cash

Thursday, January 17, 2013
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— The village of Scotia has cracked down on people who have not paid parking tickets and now requires all tickets to be processed in court, in response to a state Comptroller’s Office audit.

More than 1,800 tickets were issued during the period audited, which resulted in nearly $24,000 for the village. However, the village should have received nearly $47,000, according to state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli.

The audit faulted the village for incomplete records and found that the number of parking tickets issued did not match up with the court records. Also, late fees sometimes were being waived.

Mayor Kris Kastberg said the problems indicated in the audit, which covered the period from June 1, 2010, to Oct. 31, 2011, have already been corrected.

One problem was that police officers in the past would dismiss tickets after people made their case, claiming for example that they didn’t know they couldn’t park overnight on the street.

Kastberg said Police Chief Pete Frisoni ended the practice of officers voiding tickets when he took over in 2011.

“In accounting sense, that’s not appropriate. We had put a stop to that before we had the finding from the auditor,” Kastberg said.

People with tickets now have to make their case before the judge or plead guilty and pay the fine.

Kastberg said the village is in the state Department of Motor Vehicles scofflaws program. Village officials can notify DMV when a person has three or more unresolved parking tickets in an 18-month period. The agency will refuse to renew that person’s vehicle registration until the tickets are addressed.

Previously, Scotia was not allowed to participate in the program because of its small population.

“That would allow us to suspend a person’s license and also allow us to go get a boot if we wanted to [put a wheel-immobilizing] boot on someone’s car if they were really bad in paying the fines,” he said.

The audit also pointed out that allowing the same person to collect and deposit all funds received runs the risk that the cash could be misappropriated.

The audit’s other major finding was that the village court hadn’t accounted for money that is paid as bail. A manual register indicated there was $9,082 in bail money collected, while the bank account indicated there was $16,316 and computerized accounting records said there should be more than $20,000.

At issue was a large amount of unaccounted-for bail.

Defendants are supposed to get their bail money back when their case is dismissed or settled. However, sometimes they don’t claim it. “The unaccounted money goes back to the ’80s,” Kastberg said. “I guess there was never an accounting practice for that.”

The village has to draw the line at some point and say that money older than a certain date is considered unclaimed and will be claimed by the village. If somebody did show up to claim their bail money, he or she would still be due to receive their funds, but that money is just not going to be kept on the books.

The Village Court is in charge of making changes in response to that part of the audit, Kastberg said.

 
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