With the help of the City’s Internal Auditor, Councilman Salvatore discovered that a change to the Code of Ordinances in 2011 was never implemented by the Department of Public Works
Councilman David A. Salvatore (Ward 14) announced that the results of an audit he requested have revealed almost $31,000 in erroneous overcharges to city residents.
In October, Salvatore introduced an amendment to the Code of Ordinances that would help homeowners and tenants be better informed about their responsibilities when it comes to waste and recycle barrel offenses. Concurrently, he requested that the City’s Internal Auditor perform an audit on all fines issued during the period of July 28, 2011 through September 17, 2019.
“I was very surprised to discover such a significant number of erroneous fines imposed on city residents,” stated Councilman David A. Salvatore. “I want to thank the City’s Internal Auditor for her help and hard work on this project. These fines do add up for a homeowner struggling to make ends meet. An unexpected $50 fine is a big expense for some households, and it is not acceptable for the City to charge folks fines that are inaccurate.”
The report compiled by the Internal Auditor can be read on the City Council Website. During the time frame of the audit, 940 violations are eligible for a refund totaling $30,625.00. The report outlines the background and recommendations to the Department of Public Works (DPW), as well as DPW’s responses.
In summary, the Internal Auditor has made the following recommendations to DPW:
- Comply with the City Ordinances.
- Create a separate violation code for late removal of trash receptacles on violation tickets issued to residents.
- Create a database of tickets from issuance to final outcome.
- Create policies and procedures for issuance to final outcome.
- Create routes to physically monitor each neighborhood the day before and after garbage pickup.
- Review each violation to confirm that coding and dates are correct.
- Upon completion, reimburse all late violations, $25, $50, or $75 based on the penalties incurred due to lateness.
- Confirm violations from September 17, 2019 to present have charged correctly.
- Review vendor reports on a monthly basis for accuracy of coding.
- Educate the public on the City’s environmental ordinance.
The amendment to the Code of Ordinances proposed by Councilman Salvatore would change the fine structure as it relates to trash and recycle barrels being left out past the designated curfew. The first offense will be a warning, and all subsequent offenses will be tiered beginning with $25 for the second offense (first after warning), $50 for the third, and $100 for all subsequent fines – not to exceed $1,500.00 per calendar year. If a homeowner or tenant is fined four times or more, they will be considered a chronic violator and will be subject to appear before the Providence Municipal Court.
This Ordinance has been referred to the Committee on Ordinances; Councilman Salvatore hopes that the Committee will review this at their earliest convenience, particularly since this is causing such a burden on many of our residents.
Councilman Salvatore continued, “For too long, residents have not had a clear understanding of their responsibilities when it comes to the storage of their trash and recycle barrels. The fines to date have clearly not been consistent with the ordinance, and the amendment to the code will address that issue. This amendment will also educate residents who might not know the statute. In light of the Internal Auditor’s findings it is imperative that the City and the Committee on Ordinance react swiftly to right this egregious wrong. Further, it is important that each and every resident have clear and predictable knowledge of the workings of our City. Implementing a warning phase will help residents better understand their responsibilities for the storage of their trash and recycle bins.”
Councilman Salvatore and the Internal Auditor will work with the City’s Administration and possibly the General Treasurers Unclaimed Property Division to refund homeowners in the coming weeks.