The Daily Tar Heel

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Wednesday October 20th

DPS Uses Cuts to Craft New Plan for 2002-03 Budget

After the UNC Board of Trustees rejected a DPS budget proposal that would have raised $566,650 from a system of night parking permits and extended hours at visitor lots, the administration was charged with crafting a budget that did not include a night parking system.

Under the new plan, the $566,650 will come from three sources: a cut in the price the University pays for Chapel Hill Transit services, the elimination of the EU bus route and internal cuts in the DPS departmental budget.

The rest of the $2 million would be raised through measures that include increasing the price of day parking permits and gating some lots. "I think you will see in doing this we were able to make up for the night parking proposal without impacting faculty, staff or students in a negative way or without cutting out the services we provide," Poarch said.

An ad hoc committee of students, faculty and staff met Monday to evaluate the proposal, and UNC vice chancellors heard the plan Tuesday. The BOT Audit, Business and Finance Committee is scheduled to hear the proposal via teleconference April 25, and following its decision, the full BOT will vote by mail April 26.

Under the new plan, the bulk of the money -- $369,582 -- will come from cost-saving measures implemented by Chapel Hill Transit. Poarch said University officials were told April 3 that Chapel Hill Transit was willing to reduce the price it charges UNC for services by about $10 per hour.

"My hat is off to Chapel Hill Transit and their management staff for the work they did looking into their operations and efficiency," he said.

Another chunk of the money -- $155,394 -- will be saved by cutting the EU bus route, which runs along Ridge Road to serve the School of Government and the School of Law.

Poarch said Chapel Hill Transit's study showed that only three or four riders use the EU route per hour on average, which he said is the lowest of any of the University routes.

But he said the RU bus route would be changed to accommodate EU riders. He said the only difference is that the time between RU buses will shift from 12 to 15 minutes.

Branson Page, Graduate and Professional Student Federation president and a member of the committee that met Monday to evaluate the plan, said he is glad for the compromise in routes. "I'm glad we've already taken care of how to provide for (the EU route) -- law students will need it, even if it's just three or four per hour," he said.

The final piece of the budget equation -- $41,674 -- will be raised from internal DPS cuts, which might include personnel reductions or construction delays, Poarch said.

He said all other elements of the budget, including permit prices and departmental transit taxes, will remain the same. Poarch also said DPS will be able to fund service to two new park-and-ride lots and improved bus service to the PR Lot on Eubanks Road.

Poarch said he is satisfied with the plan, although he said a night parking system might be a possibility in the future.

Although she echoed Poarch's gratitude for finding a workable plan, Student Body President Jen Daum said she hopes to see different priorities used in future budget processes. "We are very grateful we were able to find half a million dollars for this year," she said. "However, in the future, we need to look at ways we can cut the budget before we get so attached to the idea of raising revenue."

The University Editor can be reached at udesk@unc.edu.

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