Miami Beach, Fla. has failed to collect an estimated $19 million in fees from developers that were supposed to be used to improve the city’s parking facilities.

City commissioners learned about the unpaid fees during a meeting Wednesday night and now plan to work on a strategy to collect as much as possible, according to the Miami Herald.

Commissioners asked staffers to pursue a plan for collecting the money. One possible route mentioned is to first pursue the big-ticket bills, which in some cases total hundreds of thousands of dollars. The commissioners hope to review a collection plan during a Sept. 30 meeting.

City administrators uncovered the problem, which dates to 1989, through an eight-month internal review that started by looking at a sample of 25 accounts in the program at the start of the year. That pool grew to about 180 accounts after staffers kept finding problems. The review uncovered poor record-keeping, accounting and billing practices throughout the last 25 years.

City Attorney Raul Aguila told commissioners the statute of limitations for unpaid debt is five years but that the city still could try to pursue older fees.

The city has in place a "fee in lieu parking" program that allows developers who cannot provide sufficient parking for new businesses to pay a one-time fee for each parking space they are not providing. The fee, set at $35,000 per space, is supposed to be redirected into improving the city’s parking facilities.

An annual fee of $700 also is charged if a change to an existing property requires more parking, according to the newspaper. The delinquent $19 million is estimated to be nearly enough to pay for two 500-space parking garages.

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