It said that the council made more from parking than any town or city outside London – and more than Birmingham and Manchester put together.
Only four London boroughs made more. They were Westminster, Kensington and Chelsea, Camden and Hammersmith and Fulham.
The RAC Foundation said that the 2012-13 surplus before capital charges stood at £16.254 million, up from £14.436 million in 2011-12.
The figure for 2010-11 was £12,744 and for 2009-10 it stood at £11,741.
The RAC Foundation said: “The figures are calculated by adding up income from parking charges and penalty notices, then deducting running costs.
“The data, studied for the RAC Foundation by David Leibling, comes from the annual returns that councils make to the Department for Communities and Local Government.”
Professor Stephen Glaister, director of the RAC Foundation, said: “It is a case of déjà vu. Once again English councils have made record amounts from parking.
“Yet overall spending on local roads has fallen by 9 per cent over the past three years with road safety expenditure down by as much as 20 per cent.
“The government’s recent decision to consult on changes to parking rules and regulations is timely.
“It might be that some of the extra ‘profit’ has arisen because councils’ costs for running parking services have been reduced.
“There’s no disputing the figures we have looked at. They are the numbers the councils themselves submit to central government.
“What’s more, council budgets show that the surplus for the current year is set to be higher still.”
Brighton and Hove City Council’s Parking Annual Report showed that the council made more from parking charges in 2012-13 while reducing costs.
The reduction included a saving when it retendered the parking enforcement contract to contractor NSL for three more years.
Of the surplus, goes toward the cost of funding bus subsidies and concessionary bus fares.
It also helps pay for transport-related projects, including roads maintenance and road safety projects, including modernising thousands of street lights.
The new street lights will be cheaper to run, the council said, leading to savings for council tax payers.
The draft budget for the next financial year, 2014-15, includes freezing parking charges after it voted through controversial rises for 2012-13.