Convenient parking will come at a price in the fall—more than twice what it currently costs, in some cases.
Parking permit prices will increase across the board in the fall, with costs for passes increasing between 8 and 135 percent. Nancy Nusbaum, interim director of transportation services, said the increases would make up for Parking Services’ diminishing reserves and allow them to get out of debt.
“With change sometimes comes pain,” Nusbaum said.
The proposed changes are not final, but residence hall and campus apartment permits would experience the biggest increase in prices under the proposal, more than doubling from $245 to $575. The passes were as low as $30 in 2001, but Nusbaum said the proposed price increases were justified based on the convenience and location of those spaces.
Other permits would be increased by lesser amounts. Restricted permits will increase from $265 to $335, and commuter and motorcycle passes will increase from $105 to $115. Reserved parking spots would cost $825, up from $650. The smallest increase, 8 percent, will be for parking at the Bobcat Village apartments. They would increase from $245 to $265.
The decision to increase parking permits came from the need for the auxiliary service to operate debt-free. Mounting debt services for parking garage construction, a decrease in available residential parking spots and less revenue from parking tickets and permits led to the money crunch.
“I think (university officials) knew this was coming, but they wanted to try and hold the fees as much as they could because there was a time when faculty and staff were not getting any salary increases, and tuition was going up for students pretty drastically,” Nusbaum said. “So, I think they were trying to hold the line on other fees.”
The university built the Speck Parking Garage in 2008, the Matthews Street Garage in 2009 and the Edward Gary parking garage in 2011. According to the Parking Service Profit and Loss Statement, the department was paying more than $3.7 million in debt service for the construction of parking garages in fiscal year 2011, and ended with a profit of $3.3 million.
However, the debt service on the three parking garages will total to $4.5 million by the end of spring 2013. Parking Services is expected to end the fiscal year in debt by $312,325, necessitating an increase in permit prices, Nusbaum said.
Compounding the problem is the decrease in purchased parking permits. Nusbaum said 58 percent of Parking Services’ budget comes from permit sales, with an additional 16 percent from violations and 26 percent from paid parking garages. Both violations and permit sales are down this year, she said.
“We have nice fund balances, but we’re drawing them down because we haven’t been charging enough,” Nusbaum said. “When we were selling more permits in 2006, 2007, we were able to build up reserves. But when we started building up garages and having to make the debt payments, that’s when we started drawing down our reserves to nothing.”
Many students are avoiding purchasing a permit by finding downtown or neighborhood parking and walking from off campus. There are plans to establish a neighborhood permitting system where permanent residents would be given permits for their private vehicles and unpermitted vehicles along those streets—presumably belonging to students—will be ticketed.
“We’re working with the city for those unrealized revenues, because if we can get you back on campus, it will be better for the city and the ultimate financial figure,” Nusbaum said. “I don’t know if rates can go down—I don’t know if that’s ever going to happen—but if we could stabilize them, that would be good.”
Stephen Prentice, assistant director of Parking Services, said at Monday night’s Associated Student Government meeting that he parked just off campus to avoid purchasing parking permits when he was a student at Texas State. He said there are available spaces in perimeter lots such as Mill Street.
“I’ve been where you’ve been. I’m with you,” Prentice said. “I understand. But if we go out and count parking spaces, we will never see less than 1,500 open spaces.”
Nusbaum said they will not oversell residential parking passes next year, which would guarentee a spot for everyone who purchases the $575 pass. If there are green passes left after on-campus residents finish buying permits, they will open up to anyone who is willing to purchase one.
The proposed increases in parking permits were reviewed by the President’s Cabinet, made up of administrative leaders, which has left student leaders frustrated from being left out of the original discussions.
“Anyone who takes a look at the fiscal situation can probably agree that (parking permit increases) need to be done,” said Cody DeSalvo, special assistant toPresident Nathan McDaniel. “The problem is that students have not been able to participate in these decisions that have real weight and legitimacy. It’s hard for students to retroactively include themselves.”
McDaniel sent out a memorandum Monday stating that ASG’s participation in the process was limited to only being notified of the increase.
“This time frame did not give our organization enough notice to solicit even the opinions of student Senators much less any segment of the student body affected by the increase,” McDaniel said.
Nusbaum will be presenting the proposal to the Residence Hall Association, Staff Council,and the Non-Traditional Student Organization in the coming week.