AUSTIN (KXAN) - The Austin Police Department on Tuesday updated its list of who has not paid for extra security and traffic control for special events in the city.
Large events require extra officers working overtime to provide security and event organizers are required to foot the bill, but a KXAN investigation uncovered that many have not paid.
Since our initial report aired, APD has collected $166,990.51. Since KXAN first began investigating this issue in February, the department has collected $382,722.03.
As the new list released to KXAN by APD shows, the amount owed continues to go down. The majority of the past due debts date back more than 90 days.
APD maintains they are still trying to collect past due bills dating back to 2003 because of inefficient accounting practices at the department prior to 2007 when they went to a computer accounting system. Many of the organizations and individuals contacted by KXAN said they were in good standing with APD, despite appearing on the list of those who owed the department.
"We are all squared away with APD and we always have been," said John Conley, race director for the Livestrong Austin Marathon.
Conley said he was stunned to see the marathon's name on the list of those who owed APD, since they had paid an initial payment of more than $80,000 just days after the February event.
"Unknown to us, there was a second invoice for a smaller amount that was routed to another event management company in town," said Conley. "We didn't know about that until we got a past due notice with the other event company's name on it for our bill."
Conley said the organizers immediately paid the additional $13,000 from the second invoice when they learned about the mistake. But the event organizers still appeared on the list of who owed APD. Conley said the police department simply does not have the resources to keep up with all of the billing and permitting related to special events.
"To the city of Austin's credit, they are in the beginning stages of organizing what I think is going to be the model special events office for the stat," said Conley.
As KXAN discovered, there is still a long list of debts owed.
JAG traffic, a San Antonio-based company nearly $80,000 in the hole for traffic control projects in Austin, has yet to return calls from KXAN. Their debts go back to 2010.
The Austin Symphony Orchestra moved up to second on the new list, from fifth last month.
"This is a very difficult thing for a non-profit organization to have to absorb," said executive director Anthony Corroa.
APD records show ASO owes more than $31,000 related to its July 4 concerts in 2006 and 2007. But Corroa said the symphony does not owe the money because those concerts were in Zilker Park during years the orchestra thought it had an agreement with the city. KXAN discovered the only documentation from that time shows the city would cover costs for permitting -- not security.
"They're still carrying this as a debt and the only way it can get resolved or forgiven is if the City Council passes a resolution," said Corroa. "Of course if it can't be resolved in our favor then we will find the money some way to take care of the debt because the Austin Symphony always has paid its debts."
Silicon Labs is still on the list coming in at No. 3 as owing almost $30,000. But our initial investigation revealed Silicon wasn't responsible for those debts related to the Austin Marathon Relay. The company sponsored the event and maintains bills should be paid by the event manager, RunTex.
Conley said he is confident these problems will be solved with the reorganization of the city's special events office.
"We think that's the right solution -- that my event has a point of contact that is consistent and is aware of all of those things that need to be done and have been done so that five weeks or three months after my race we're not surprised with a bill that we never even knew was coming," said Conley.
APD has changed its policy when it comes to collections. Any company who fails to pay after 90 days will not get a permit for their next lpublic event.
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