Parking fees to pay SLU expenses

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Parking fees to pay SLU expenses

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The Seattle Lot, like every other lot in SLU’s possession, is maintained through revenue from parking fees. Shah (Yuqing Xia) / Photo Editor

Rates increase in effort to cover costs for budgetary items

This semester’s increases in the rates for parking permits have motivated students and faculty to seek a resolution to some unanswered questions concerning where the increase in funds are specifically allocated.

According to the Director of Parking and Card Services Ann Gioia and the Vice President of Facilities Management and Civic Affairs Kathleen Brady, the increase in revenue will go towards supporting other budget items not specifically related to the Department of Parking and Card Services.

“If there is a surplus from the parking permits, that surplus goes into a pot for the University,” Brady said. “Sometimes Parking and Card Services will get that money back to make improvements to existing lots or to acquire new ones, but sometimes it will go to other areas of the University that are financially deficient.”

The monthly faculty and staff rates rose from $46.67 to $51.67 for general parking and from $69.17 to $76.67 for preferred parking.  Students who live on campus saw the price go from $255 to $280, and for commuters it rose from $200 to $220.

“We make a concerted effort to keep prices low at SLU while still trying to remain above the curve in relation to new facilities and updated technology,” Brady said.

The payment for parking used to be included into tuition until 1999. Students would pay for parking, even if they were not utilizing it, and they were subsidizing faculty and staff parking as well.

“We didn’t feel that it was right for students to take on more of a load then they already have in terms of financial commitment,” Brady said.

The daily and event rates were approved this past July, while the rise in semester permit parking was decided in early August.

According to Chris Regan, vice president of service operations, the decision to raise the rates of the daily and event parking was recommended by the Parking and Transportation Advisory Committee in early July. However, the PTAC recommended in February not to increase the rates for faculty, staff and students.

“The hourly, daily and event parking increase was approved by the committee, and through the approval process of the executive staff, it was decided that permit prices would rise as well,” Regan said.

Susan Toretta, a staff representative for the PTAC, has been involved with this process and understands the nature of the committee’s recommendations.

“The committee makes recommendations, and the committee recommended not to raise the semester parking rate, but the final decision is the President’s Coordinating Counsel,” Toretta said.

According to Parking and Card Services, the budget process is as follows: In late summer, each department begins gathering information for the next year’s budget cycle, and in September, the department provides information to the budget division on revenue projections. The revenue is mainly from semester rates and the hourly, daily and event rates.  In the fall, the PCC has several budget meetings, and then the board of trustees approves the budget.

“What do our constituents [students] want to see in regards to the parking permit increases?  I believe that they would like to see tangible sults as to why increases are needed,” Roya Massoudnia, Student Government Association commuter senator, said.

The parking rate increases are discussed every three years based on new expenses and maintenance.

“The extra money that is made from the parking is going beyond Parking and Card Services to help with the overall budget,” Gioia said. “The budget all goes into the big blue fund. Sometimes we have to pay that back. We are a weird department. It is strange how the administration does things sometimes.”

A fee is defined as a payment for a specific service. According to some students, such as freshman Natalie Conners, that makes a surplus ineligible for use on other things.

“If they are going to use parking revenue for other things, then they should tell us,” Conners said. “For all we know, they could be using that revenue for things we don’t need. We have a right to know.”

SGA President Matt Ryan declined to comment on the matter, stating he needed to gather more information on the matter.

“If transparency is a problem for students, then a way to solve that is to create a savings account of sorts,” Heather Bednarek, chairwoman of the economics department, said. “Any excess parking revenue could be funneled into a savings account, and either that money could be refunded or make the next year’s permits pro-rated based on the amount of excess, if any.”

Bednarek said that if the savings account is not possible, there should be a way to show students how money is allocated.

According to Bednarek, it should be taken into account that SLU parking is not a monopoly. There are several other choices from which to choose. The parking fee is not mandatory — there are meters, private lots and public transportation that could be used instead.

Additional reporting by Jonathan Ernst