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Audit finds problems with fees collected at city department

System called 'not accurate or complete'

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SAN ANTONIO – A report from the city auditor was released Tuesday showing persistent financial problems in the city department that collects fees when street lanes are closed for utility and other work.

The audit shows billing is "not accurate or complete."

Seventeen of 38 invoices sampled were wrong, according to auditors. Eleven accounts were under-billed, costing the city $4,200 in revenue and two accounts were not billed at all, costing the city $18,530.

Auditors only examined a fraction of the transactions recorded at the city's Transportation and Capital Improvements Department.

Fees paid to that department include $1.6 million in 2011, $1.35 million in 2012 and $1.7 million last fiscal year.

Debbie Racca-Sittre, assistant director of TCI, said her department asked for the audit.

"The audit helped us to find a lot of things that we could correct," Racca-Sittre said. "We're really glad the city auditor came in and helped us out with this audit. It really helps us determine what we need to go forward."

The audit also found that 17 of the 30 violation invoices sampled were not paid on time, that 14 of 29 failed inspections were not invoiced and seven out of 20 overtime invoices sampled were wrong.

Audit Committee member Ron Nirenberg, of City Council District 8, said he wanted to assure the public that the funds the department failed to collect were eventually collected.

"I was assured that that revenue has been recovered so that is all the reason for this audit committee is so we can check in on city processes and make sure we're being good stewards of taxpayers money," Nirenberg said. "You know, it's sort of a reality check."

He praised the department for asking for the audit.

"It's not really a surprise," Nirenberg said. "I'm glad that our city management sort of was proactive in acquiring that audit but I'm very glad that there were good responses, that we recovered all of the procedural problems."

Concerns like these may soon be a thing of the past because big changes are ahead.

"There will be a city-wide permit system change next year so we want one stop shop for permits," Racca-Sittre said.

She said new permitting software is coming in 2015.

Until then, she said, each permit and the fees collected will be double checked by the inspectors in the field and then the accounting department.