Jurassic Parking: Low fees going extinct
By Jeremia Schrock
Sun Star Reporter
First it was cash for clunkers. Now it’s cash for perfectly good cars. In the coming term, Parking Services will be implementing a wide range of changes aimed at reducing the department’s quarter million dollar revenue gap.
Saying that “there is no single silver bullet” to solving the budget crisis, Parking Services will be introducing a two-pronged plan that was first discussed in January.
Martin Klein, the Associate Director of Parking Services, said he knew this was coming.
“If I had had things my way, I would have implemented these changes a year ago,” Klein said. Parking Services is a self-sustaining organization. Its sole source of funding comes from fees and tickets. “We receive no money from the Legislature and have to raise prices to maintain the same level of services.”
Klein said he is aware of student concerns. “We want to treat all users the same,” he said. As such, raising student rates has been put off until Spring 2011. The decision was partially influenced by the fact that fall semester class schedules have already been printed.
In order to limit spending, Parking Services also consolidated office space, reduced staff, tried to drive more business online and reduced the summer shuttle service. Klein said that while one full-time staff position was eliminated, “no student jobs were removed.” Klein said he would love to have more students on staff and that parking services is currently “looking into using students more often.” Student wages are significantly lower than administrative staff wages.
Chiefs among the revenue-increasing changes are the increase in ticket, permit, and daily parking prices. According to a May memorandum signed by Pat Pitney, Vice Chancellor of Administrative Services, most ticket prices have been raised by $5 per ticket. This increase affects overtime meters, parking in a restricted area, and failure to purchase a decal.
A ticket for parking in a handicapped place, however, saw the greatest alteration in price with the new charge being $250, more than double the previous $120. These changes went into effect July 1.
Students will also see their transportation fee increased $2 per year for the next three years, with this year’s fee being raised from $13 to $15.
To drive down personnel costs, Parking Services will continue to encourage people to purchase decals and pay fees online, perhaps by offering incentives such as “a drawing for a gift card for Bear Bucks or something like that,” Klein said. “We’re currently discussing what we can do.” The idea is to have a drawing where students who purchase their decal online would automatically be entered. Details for the prospective drawing are yet to be determined.
Parking services is also considering making changes in student parking. In the same May memorandum, parking services proposed offering gold space parking in the West Ridge, Arctic Health, East, West, Elvey, O’Neil, and Sheenjek lots. The memorandum said “space would only be sold if there is sufficient demand in an area to create a manageable area of gold space.”
Tanis Bourque, a biology major who parks at the Arctic Health lot, was unaware of the parking changes until recently. She doesn’t see much of a reason to change the current parking situation. “I think most people won’t actually pay a higher price to park there,” Bourque said, “so the gold lots will be empty while the other lots overflow.” According to Bourque, whose classes are all at West Ridge next semester, “the whole thing, frankly, seems silly to me. I don’t think it will really solve any problems, it will just create more.”