Already high parking rates slated for increase

Students to pay more, offsetting $6.1 million cost of service increase

In the quiet college town of Chapel Hill, on-campus parking rates for faculty could easily be mistaken for those at a school in a bustling metropolis.

The culprit: a sliding scale that assigns permit prices based on a professor’s salary. The system has driven permit prices to an average of $1,233 in 2009-10, an astronomic level compared to the University’s peers, but very much in line with what professors pay at Harvard University and the University of California-Los Angeles.

Without state funding, the receipt-funded Department of Public Safety has looked to faculty to shoulder the burden of transit costs.

If You Go

Time: 2:30 p.m.
Location: Chancellor’s Ballroom East, Carolina Inn

Graphic: Proposal would offset faculty parking fees with higher student expenses (Rebecca Egger)

“None of that’s free,” said Dean Penny, a Kimley-Horn and Associates consultant hired by DPS who conducted a study comparing UNC’s rates to those at other schools.

“Someone has to pay for that.”

Since the system was introduced in 2003, that someone has been the faculty member.

But today, the Board of Trustees will hear a proposal for a five-year plan that aims to combat increasing operational costs — and share the burden of fees among all transit system users.

On Thursday, DPS will review and hold a final vote on any changes to the plan that will raise the student transportation fee to offset an expected $6.1 million increase in transportation costs.

After a vote of approval, the student transportation fee would rise from $73.50 to $142 at a rate of about $14 per year, beginning in the 2011-12 school year and continuing until 2015-16.

In the 2013-14 school year, formerly free park-and-ride permits would increase to $250, and a 2 percent annual increase in parking permit prices would begin, amounting to increases of between $5.78 and $7.60 for students depending on the type of permit.

Those increases would come on top of an average rate of $553 students paid on-campus in 2009-10, according to Penny’s study.

Like the faculty rate, permits for students exceeded those of peer and nearby institutions by hundreds of dollars.

At $553, the average on-campus permit for students exceeded the average cost of $240 at Duke University and $236 at N.C. State University combined in 2009-10.

The same was true of two peer institutions — University of Virginia and University of Michigan — where the average on-campus parking cost was $318 and $202, respectively.

At the University of Kansas, Donna Hultine, director of parking and transit, said students pay $190 annually for an on-campus parking permit.

“We actually are getting ready to propose a fee increase on probably all categories of revenue,” Hultine said, adding that permits, fines, event parking and other transportation costs will all see increases.

Parking prices are low, she said, because the department receives money from other revenue streams like tickets, event parking and a meter system.

Like the one in Chapel Hill, KU’s bus system remains fare-free — but that might change soon.

“More people are choosing to take the bus, so we’ll probably raise (permit prices), but not more than $10 a permit,” Hultine said.

Jeff McCracken, director and chief of DPS, said the lack of parking ticket revenue adds to the problem a revenue-driven system creates.

“We don’t really get any fine revenue. I think that is a misconception people have based on North Carolina’s constitutional law. The overwhelming majority of fines go to the state,” he said.

“We do get to maintain a little of that money but it is very small and doesn’t even cover our operational costs for issuing the citations.”

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