SAVANNAH, GA (August 17, 2018) — The City of Savannah’s Organizational Performance and Accountability Office has completed its audit and investigation of Parking Services’ cash handling practices.
The audit began in January 2018 after a deposit bag related to special event parking at the Liberty Street parking garage was reported missing. The bag contained $1,192. The City of Savannah reported the theft to the Savannah Police Department. Ashley Swindell, a facilities supervisor, was terminated on June 5. She was arrested on June 11 and charged with Theft by Taking. The criminal investigation is still underway.
On August 1, Swindell’s immediate supervisor (the assistant director of Parking Services), retired in lieu of termination as a direct result of the audit.
“There is always an opportunity for improvement, the audit has revealed several deficiencies in our practices and procedures and the need to modernize our systems,” said City Manager Rob Hernandez. “I am troubled by the findings of the audit and the actions of a long-term employee who is now charged with stealing public money. We have taken prompt steps to safeguard taxpayer money and ensure accountability in the Parking Services department. We are taking a methodical approach to a systemic problem.”
On August 3, City Council approved an emergency purchase of deposit drop boxes and collection services from Loomis/Safepoint. Eight drop box systems were purchased for $103,000 and will be located where cash collections are currently in place for the Parking Services Department. Loomis/Safepoint will provide collection services for $24,000 a year. The installation of the boxes and the use of the collection services adds additional safeguards when dealing with cash handling.
The City also took swift action to make sure all parking garage cameras are working properly and Savannah Police officers, who are paid for by the Parking Fund and assigned to City garages, are escorting parking employees when they are transporting money.
The City is still assessing Parking Services’ operations and examining ways to improve City policies and procedures.
A copy of the audit is available here: 2018 Parking Services Review