PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The Philadelphia Parking Authority is responding after a scathing audit was released Wednesday from the city controller’s office. The audit found the Philadelphia Parking Authority has a bloated workforce and high executive pay compared to other publicly managed parking agencies.

“Management salaries need to be reined in,” City Controller Rebecca Rhynhart said.

Rhynhart took a deep dive into the Philadelphia Parking Authority, finding through an audit its on-street parking unit is inflated compared to other cities with more than 600 workers.

The report said that inflation continues with the salaries of the authority top leadership.

The executive director of the PPA, for instance, is paid $210,000 per year. That tops the director’s salaries of parking agencies in San Francisco, Boston, Houston and other cities, according to the audit.

The audit looked at expenses from 2016 to 2018.

“While the parking enforcement officer, the PEO, the entry-level position is paid the lowest of all the comparable cities,” Rhynhart said. “That’s just not right.”

Rhynhart says the executive director overpaid.

“Compared to other parking authorities across the country, it would seem yes,” Rhynhart said.

Drivers also agree.

“That explains what they’re doing with all that money they’re getting from these tickets,” Justin Moore, of Graduate Hospital, said.

“Definitely, definitely need changes,” Ozzy Barksdale, of West Philadelphia, said.

The PPA points out the executive director’s salary is less than what it was before Scott Petri took the position several years ago. The agency also responded to the audit, saying the controller’s office didn’t account for the size and structure of other public parking entities.

The audit also showed political patronage is a problem within the PPA. Of a random sample of 107 employees, 23% were in some way politically connected.

“What we’re finding is still an authority that benefits the connected over regular people and that needs to change,” Rhynhart said.

For its part, the PPA said the audit shows most employees are not politically connected.

The Philadelphia Parking Authority responded to the audit and said comparing it to other parking agencies is comparing apples to oranges. It added, “No other parking authority or similar agency in the United States is responsible for the diverse transportations duties assigned to the PPA.”

PPA Chairman Joe Ashdale said in a statement:

“For over two years (the Comcast Towers were built in less time) the City Controller’s team examined every aspect of PPA operations impacting the On-Street Parking Program and two very clear points stand out. First, the audit did not find any material weaknesses in the way in which the PPA manages the On-Street Parking program. Secondly, the PPA made record payments to the City and School District in each year of the audit period. PPA contributed over $200 million to the City and School District from the On-Street Parking Program, an increase of $11.4 million (25%) from the beginning of the audit period in FY 2016 through FY 2019. The contribution to the City went from $35.7 million to $41.7, an increase of $6 million (17%). The contribution to the School District went from $10.3 million to $15.7 million, an increase of $5.4 million (53%). Additionally, every one of the four recommendations cited in the executive summary were implemented long before the Controller’s review even began.

“Regarding the Controller’s apples to oranges comparison of the PPA operation to other cities, as the Auditor General acknowledged in his 2017 report, the PPA is unlike any other parking authority making comparisons nearly impossible. Any attempt to make comparisons of expenses and salaries with other cities whose operations bear no resemblance to Philadelphia’s parking environment or scope of services is significantly flawed.”

But the city controller points out it’s crucial to have accountability for every dollar the parking authority brings in to ensure city schools are funded where they should be.

“My daughter is in the public school system, we all care about the schools,” Rhynhart said. “We want the schools to have the money they need to educate our kids.”

The Philadelphia Parking Authority holds monthly virtual meetings. The next one is on Dec. 15. You can sign up by clicking here.

To read the city controller’s full audit, click here.


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