Parking Violations Must Make “Cents”

According to the Houston Chronicle, the Downtown Management District and the city of Houston are looking at ways to make downtown parking less of a hassle so people will want to be repeat customers.  Although it took them a long time, I am glad to hear that the city is FINALLY starting to study these issues, something I have been calling for since I ran for office in 2009.

One of my platform issues was to implement a tax dollar review program.  Under this program, the controller’s office would have to audit every city program.  Each program would come up for review on a rotation every X number of years, depending on the program.  Some should be audited more often than others.  The controller’s office already conducts audits at the mayor’s request, so adding the number of audits won’t increase costs for the city much, and the amount of waste they would find would pay for this and then some.

Parking meters is one of the examples I usually gave to illustrate this concept.  What if we were spending more money on the salaries of those who gave tickets to violators than we were making from the meters?  We finally know that parking meters are making the city money, but how many years did it take them to figure that out?  If the city would have audited this program years ago, they would have found ways to streamline it and ways to make people want to come downtown more often.  Instead, years later, they are just now realizing that changes need to be made.

Implementing a tax dollar review program across the city will surely show elected officials how to be better stewards of our money and will strengthen the effectiveness of our tax dollars.

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2 Responses to Parking Violations Must Make “Cents”

  1. I agree! “Cents” always have and always will add up to dollars. This gesture might just show that city government is starting to realize this fact. Parking has been a longtime issue in the downtown area and will continue to be a problem due to the density of the area. So, a solid plan to help the problem is a definite need. Considering the Management District has dollars ($37M) vested in bringing new housing to Downtown, it would stand to reason to discover new ideas.

    I agree the “Tax Dollar Review Program” (TDRP) idea is a great way to ensure tax dollars are being utilized wisely. There is a definite need to monitor the effectiveness of any program to which tax dollars are attached. This program should also be tied to the Magagement District’s projects as well.

    I believe the cost of such a program would provide an immediate “payoff”. Good stewardship and squeezing every drop from every penny is exactly what this city needs.

  2. Peter Houston says:

    The city has been performing such audits for years now, Lloyd Kelly following in the footsteps of George Grenias, current Mayor Parker doing likewise during her reign after Sylvia Garcia continued the practice. There have been many audits that were initiated against the wishes of whomever was mayor too, anyone paying attention remembering Lanier, Brown, and White railing about the duplication of audits costing the city so much money.

    So while it is great that others see the potential of independent audits, coming up with new labels for a recurring practice smacks of opportunism. To suggest such audits will necessarily find “waste” or better ways to spend money also relies heavily on the belief that the Mayor and Council will adopt whatever recommendations are made, almost every cut having a political cost. In a strong mayor form of government, any such cuts are going to have to meet with their approval, historical examples abound on Controllers suggesting specific cuts only to be rebuffed repeatedly (each of the aforementioned Controllers having had this happen).

    As far as the parking example is concerned, some of the biggest developers requested more aggressive parking management downtown since they did not want to have to pay for more parking spots. The parking meters work(ed) in two ways, a revenue source and to help speed up turnover at key locations. The developers and property managers could point the finger at the city should a customer get a ticket, all the while appreciating the fact that the tickets would speed up customers for the next one (a great many calls for the meter maids being made by them, even personal favors called in to ensure such city employees would be forced to spend time in their areas each day).

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