Two of the state's top watchdogs will be digging into the finances of the Philadelphia Parking Authority to determine how millions of dollars were spent.
Attorney General Bruce Beemer and Auditor General Eugene DePasquale said Thursday that the joint audit will focus on the Parking Authority's contracts, parking prices related to the on-street parking program, and whether all the revenue that is supposed to go to the School District is being transferred properly.
"When the state had its takeover of the Philadelphia Parking Authority, the major promise granted was that this would become a huge revenue stream for the School District of Philadelphia, benefiting the kids of the district," DePasquale said, referencing the 2001 takeover of the PPA orchestrated by the Republican-controlled House. "Those promises have been unfulfilled and part of our goal in this audit is to find out what can be done better at the Philadelphia Parking Authority so that promise can actually be met."
Last year, the authority provided $10.2 million to the Philadelphia School District, a decrease from a high of $14 million in 2012 and much less than what DePasquale said was supposed to be "tens of millions" in annual revenue for the School District.
The audit comes on the heels of a sexual-harassment scandal that led to the resignation of Vincent J. Fenerty Jr., the longtime executive director. Fenerty, 60, was accused of sexually harassing two coworkers, one in the mid-2000s and another around 2014. DePasquale said the scandal drew the scrutiny of his office.
"That is not an agency that is looking out for the benefit of its employees, let alone the people of Philadelphia," DePasquale said.
This will be the second audit ordered by the auditor general. Last month, DePasquale ordered an audit of the PPA's employment policies and procedures, including how it handles sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace.
On Thursday, DePasquale said that the PPA has been cooperative in his initial audit and that he expects the authority will also cooperate in the financial audit.
Clarena Tolson, who replaced Fenerty as the PPA's executive director, said the agency "will look forward to cooperating in this joint audit."
Prepared to act
If any improprieties are found, Beemer's office could follow through with a criminal investigation.
"We will be prepared to take appropriate action if the audit reveals evidence of possible unlawful activity," Beemer said.
The portion of the audit that looks at the authority's contracting and procurement process and the prices for the on-street parking program will go back to April 1, 2014. The audit on operating and administrative expenses as it related to the on-street parking program, which is where the money for the School District comes from, will go back to April 1, 2012.
"People of Philadelphia deserve an accounting of where that money has gone," Beemer said.