EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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June 18, 2013

Review finds lax oversight at garages

(Continued)

Nunes said he could not review payments by about a dozen other companies with rights to spaces in city garages and lots because their agreements “do not appear to be formalized with supporting documentation.”

Other parking revenues that could have been collected by the state’s poorest city also have been left on the table, Nunes said.

Lots are often left unattended “for extended periods of time,” Nunes said. Drivers who do not retrieve their vehicles after attendants leave at 5:30 p.m. are left to an honor system and asked to deposit their payments in a slot in the attendants’ booths. Collections for monthly passes, which cost up to $80, can sit in drawers for weeks.

“Cash and checks are accepted, but deposits are not occurring on a daily or even weekly basis,” Nunes said. “Since the beginning of calendar year 2013, nine entries have been made in the MUNIS accounting system.” MUNIS is a municipal accounting system.

Other practices Nunes found appear to invite the kind of theft that state police alleged earlier this month against parking attendants Justo Garcia and Felix Matos. Garcia has been charged with larceny and other crimes at the Museum Square garage; Matos was accused in a police affidavit of receiving stolen money from Garcia, but has not been charged.

“The employee is responsible for his or her own final count” of cash at the end of the day,” Nunes said about the parking attendants. “There are no secondary efforts to reconcile or confirm the number of total customers per shift and the total amount of cash on hand.”

Although collections are tallied in daily spreadsheets by a DPW employee, the spreadsheets are not audited.

Nunes also noted that Lantigua boosted employment in the parking division from eight to 21 people since 2010. Over the same period, Lantigua laid off dozens of cops and firefighters. Garcia, who is Lantigua’s campaign photographer, is among the 13 Lantigua hires in the parking division. He was taking pictures for Lantigua at Sunday’s Hispanic Week parade.

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