Butkovitz Uncovers $70 Million in Unpaid City Fines

Audit Date: March 15, 2012
Controller: Alan Butkovitz

Executive Summary

For Immediate Release:
March 15, 2012

Contact: Harvey Rice

Butkovitz Uncovers $70 Million in Unpaid City Fines
Controller’s follow-up examination of Office of Administrative Review
found 38% increase in uncollected fines over a two-year period.

Click here to view report

PHILADELPHIA – Following up on an earlier report on the Office of Administrative Review’s (OAR) enforcement and collection efforts, City Controller Alan Butkovitz today released a report that found as of the end of FY2010, the City was owed more than $70 million for unpaid fines that included trash, sanitation, and false burglar alarms violations.

From FY08 to FY10, unpaid fines for these type of violations increased by 38 percent, or $19.4 million. The total number of unpaid violations also increased from 330,760 for FY08 to 412,837 for FY10.

While the city increased the amounts of the fine for some of these violations during this period, it collected $1.5 million more in revenues from FY09 to FY10, but issued almost 40,000 less tickets.

According to Butkovitz, “this is an on-going problem and the City is going to have to get serious about collecting the millions of dollars in unpaid fines and should start by improving its collection efforts.”

The Controller’s follow-up review also found that at the end of FY10, there were 55,811 violations totaling $5.1 million eligible for court referral. As noted in the Controller’s 2008 report, OAR is limited to referring only 160 cases per week, resulting in a significant backlog of violations waiting for OAR to review.

To improve the collection rates and compliancy, Controller Butkovitz made the following recommendations for the City:

-Deny issuing licenses and permits to any person/business who owes for unpaid violations, as well as deem null any current licenses until the fine has been paid in full.
-Coordinate efforts with the Municipal Court to increase the number of referrals to clear the backlog of pending cases and improve the administrative due process delays.
-Explore the opportunity to alleviate backlog of appeal cases by establishing an incentive program that would slightly reduce the fine amount owed for individuals who pay the fine within 10 days and plead no contest to the violation.