Increase in parking fees could be unnecessary - The Poly Post : News

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Increase in parking fees could be unnecessary

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Posted: Tuesday, September 24, 2013 7:08 pm | Updated: 8:13 pm, Tue Sep 24, 2013.

Over the past fiscal year, parking and citation fees have been managed appropriately and even saved on. This has also been the case in the Parking & Transportation Services recent past, explains Mark Lopez, university budget director.

“[Parking and Transportation Services is] robust. They’re solid. They’re not in the hole in any way, shape or form,” said Lopez.

After maintenance costs, P&TS ended the last fiscal year with $595,429 in their account. According to Lopez, as long as P&TS comes out in the positive, like they did this year, it will be less likely that fees will be raised as periodically.

“We have been working as aggressively as possible to keep parking fees down,” said Freer, vice president for student affairs.

The current fee for parking permits remains at $106, while citations for invalid permits were raised as of July 2012 from $39 to $48.

The citation fees were recently raised to bring them into accordance with section 40203.5(a) of the California Vehicle Code. This increase brings them in line with the city of Pomona’s citation fees. It was done because Cal Poly Pomona uses the same judiciary system as the city of Pomona when someone is issued a citation.

“Whether you park on campus inappropriately or in the city inappropriately, it’s the same fine,” said Freer.

According to Freer, parking fees have only been updated once in the past four years. Also, despite the expectation that there would be a yearly parking permit increase during the years after the parking structure was opened, CPP has not had to go to such lengths. Fees have only been raised a couple of times since the parking structure was constructed and opened.

During construction of the parking structure, campus growth was expected to rise, but when it did not, the yearly fee increase plan was put into place. Now that CPP has the enrollment they need, it is not as necessary to increase parking permit fees.

“Everyone wants [P&TS] to be as seamless and transparent as possible,” said Freer.

It costs 1-2% more every year to run the campus and CPP reviews parking and transportation rates annually to determine rate changes. There are two factors that determine this: first, is the cost to run what the university currently has; second, what needs to be done in the future.

“The reality is that the cost to operate the program is always going up,” said Freer.

According to Darwin Labordo, associate vice president and associate chief financial officer for finance and administrative services, unlike the other university departments, P&TS operates with a self-supporting fund. This means that it receives no state funding and must generate 100% of its own revenue.

“They have to live off of their own revenues like a business,” said Labordo. “They are what we call, auxiliary enterprises.”

The state does provide some services such as the cashiers who issue parking tags. However, the state gets that money back because P&TS pays the bill.

“[P&TS] is not intended to be a money maker for the university,” said Freer.

According to the P&TS webpage, money collected from parking permit sales is used strictly for parking-related expenses including parking lot maintenance and repair, lighting and signage improvements, and administrative costs. These funds also partially fund the Bronco Express Shuttle system.

Funds from the citation fees are only used for alternative transportation such as the rideshare program, Bronco Express and the Link out to the train station.

As the university expands there will be more situations where parking fee increases become a necessity.

There are also more surface parking lots being used as construction sites for future buildings so the university needs to be ahead of building plans.

“New construction always costs more than old construction,” said Freer.

In relation to this, one thing CPP is preparing to do in the future is the addition of more parking for students. These are serious parking plans that are intended to help deal with the decrease in parking as the campus expands and as more buildings are built.

However, despite the fact that parking fees will most likely rise in the future, CPP is also taking measures to incorporate new technology that will help cut costs.

One new technology already in use at colleges such as Ohio State and the University of Maryland is license plate recognition technology. This would make it so that students would no longer need to purchase hangtags.

P&TS enforcers would be able to drive down the aisles and scan license plates. Those who have registered their plate would show up on the scanner as having a valid permit.

Parking tag fees are set depending on operation expenses and this technology would lower overhead costs. Because it is so labor intensive to go out and check tags, this technology would reduce the time needed to monitor all cars in various lots.

It is still an experimental technology and CPP is checking it out at other campuses currently using it.

“It is 3 to 5 years out for it to be functional and operationally efficient,” said Freer.

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