John W. Adkisson, Los Angeles Times (l355qcnc20120323044155/600 )
The city of Los Angeles could get an additional $350 million in savings and additional revenue by going after uncollected fees, better managing properties and contracting with local businesses, according to a series of reports released Thursday.
The recommendations were made by a volunteer commission appointed by the City Council in 2010. The seven-member group also strongly recommended that city leaders appoint an inspector general to oversee collections. Los Angeles officials have been trying to hire someone for the position for more than a year.
The city has $541 million in outstanding bills and tickets, according to a separate report issued by the group last year. Much of that money cannot be collected because the two-year statute of limitations has passed.
"The leadership of this city can no longer sit on these recommendations," said Cheryl Parisi, chairwoman of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees District Council 36, who also serves on the panel.
The commission found that the city could bring in up to $15 million annually by contracting with local businesses. The city lost at least $600,000 in taxes because the Department of Water and Power and the Port of Los Angeles purchased $60 million worth of vehicles outside the city over the last two years.
"That shows the procurement process is broken," said Ron Galperin, who chairs the committee and is also running for controller.
Local dealers were offered a chance to bid on a major DWP vehicle purchase during that period, but they did not submit offers, an agency spokesman said.
L.A. misses out on between $20 million and $30 million in parking fees annually because lot operators do not give the city what it's owed.
"So many of us pay in cash, and it disappears," Galperin said.
Parisi said the revenue cited in the committee recommendations could stave off further cuts. The city is facing a $220-million budget shortfall next fiscal year and has already slashed services, including cutting library hours and freezing some worker salaries.
"The approach has been to look for ways to cut," Parisi said. "Cuts only diminish this city."
The committee also urged city leaders to streamline some permitting processes and manage its assets more carefully, which could bring in a combined $10 million.