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Solutions to Ticket Ills

March 17, 1991

The article by Mathis Chazanov describing how the cities of Beverly Hills and West Hollywood saved thousands of dollars and improved citizen service by having traffic tickets processed by a private company rather than by the county courts (Times, Feb. 24) was enjoyable and informative. Of primary interest is the traditional and expected response of the county. The solutions they focus on are taking legal action against the cities, complaining about understaffing and trying to get the cities back with no improvement in performance nor economy of operation. You notice the county claims "entitlement" and "chronic staff shortage" rather than promising to provide service that prevents citizen cars from being towed or booted after tickets have been paid.

With monthly traffic ticket processing varying as greatly as reported in the article, the answer is clearly not more people or part-time people. Rather, the solution most likely rests with some important changes in how Los Angeles County employees are utilized and compensated. These changes should include the following:

* Moving to skill-based pay from job-based pay in order that employees can be rotated to areas where specific skills are needed and paid at the rate of the specific skill when it is being used. This would permit county employees to be used on a wide range of tasks, making their careers more interesting and challenging and providing more flexibility for deployment where employees are needed.

* Implement productivity-based pay in order that employees are rewarded for their productivity rather than merely for the time they put in. Have employee pay vary based on how well they satisfy their customer's performance standards--in this case, the customers are the cities of Beverly Hills and West Hollywood.

Only in the public sector do we tolerate claims of "foul" when the "customer" is no longer willing to pay the bill that results from a management system from the 1960s that remains unchanged in the 1990s. For my part, I hope my city has a phone call in to some potential private providers of services such as those described in your article.

JAY R. SCHUSTER

Manhattan Beach

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