State Rep. Tony Payton is calling on his colleagues in Harrisburg to support legislation requiring "more openness and accountability" at the Philadelphia Parking Authority. Payton's legislation, now circulating for co-sponsors to sign on, comes on the heels of an PPA audit obtained by the Daily News, the Inquirer and KYW Newsradio this week.
The audit, conducted by City Controller Alan Butkovitz's office and an outside accounting firm, is still in draft form as auditors and PPA staff haggle over details. The final version is expected to be released in about a week. The draft says the PPA is top-heavy with managers and disorganized with its money.
Payton's legislation calls for a much closer look at the PPA. He wants the state Auditor General to have the power to appoint a certified public accountant to perform an annual audit of the agency, which would be published for the public to read. The bill also requires a forensic audit to examine the PPA's policies on topics such as ticketing and parking sign language while comparing the agency to parking agencies in at least two other cities.
The PPA claimed during the controller's audit that the scope of its responsibilities -- parking enforcement, red light camera tickets, taxi regulation -- makes it unlike any other parking agency in the country.
UPDATE, 11:45 am: Butkovitz, a former state legislator, notes that his office has been shedding auditors in budget cuts for the past 15 years. The state didn't come up with the cash to pay for the PPA audit, even though Gov. Rendell demanded the financial probe back in the Fall of 2007 after a series of stories in the Daily News. That meant other projects had to be delayed to fund the PPA audit.
"If people want those audits, fund us to do it," Butkovitz said. "We would be happy to expand auditing, not only in the Parking Authority."