The Santa Barbara Police Department will fund a review of its parking-citation program, following the embarrassing seven-year embezzlement of more than $500,000 by one of its own employees.

Former business manager Karen Flores stole the parking revenues and was recently sentenced to 10 years in prison.

She worked for the Police Department for 22 years, but the theft started right after her supervisor’s position was eliminated due to budget cuts in 2004.

The parking-citation program brings in $4.2 million every year for enforcing 75-minute zones and street-sweeping restrictions, but the city says the computer system is cumbersome and antiquated.

City Council members are expected to sign off on the contract for the review during Tuesday’s meeting.

If approved, JR Parking Consultants will assess the enforcement-to-collection process and see whether it would be cheaper to outsource it.  

Santa Barbara’s parking program includes 14 enforcement officers and three office staff who oversee and process all the payments. The consulting contract would fund a thorough review of the system.

The Police Department would spend $54,970 on the parking-citation analysis contract, which is twice as much as it planned, according to the staff report.

Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli can be reached at Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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Giana Magnoli, Noozhawk Managing Editor

Noozhawk managing editor Giana Magnoli can be reached at