For the first time in SUU history, faculty and staff will pay for parking beginning Fall 2013, when the parking fee will change from $12 a year for students to $30 a year for students, faculty and staff.
The suggestion to increase parking fees was submitted to the Budget Task Force as a response to the SUU administration’s request to the SUU community for ideas to increase revenue for the university, Roeder said.
SUU President Michael T. Benson said the President’s Council approved the request and set the amount at $30, which they considered an appropriate “user’s fee.”
Emilee Ballard, parking services supervisor, said there will be three exceptions to this policy:
Student Housing decals, which will be $35 per year
Motorcycle decals, which will be $15 per year
Decals for vehicles with SUU license plates, which will cost $15 a year
Ballard said those with an SUU license plate will still be able to park in the green and yellow lots, which are designated for faculty, staff, students and visitors, but must purchase a decal if they wish to retain the flexibility of parking in any space on campus.
Jerry Roeder, assistant vice president and dean of students, said this change will surely disappoint many, but it was one that needed to be made.
“Faculty and staff haven’t paid anything to park on campus for the last 30 years,” he said. “When you go from paying nothing to paying $30, there is going to be some disappointment, but $30 is still a reasonable amount for someone to pay.”
Roeder also said students have paid $12 since the university instituted the parking program over 30 years ago, but maintenance costs have gone up, leaving a deficit in the parking budget.
Lana Smith, administrative assistant for the foreign language and philosophy department, said the change will be hardest for those who have purchased an SUU license plate, but for her it is no more than a minor irritation.
“When all of the sudden we have to pay for something that has been free for so long, it is a little bit difficult,” she said. “$30 is not going to break anyone, but it is an inconvenience.”
SUU President Michael T. Benson said free parking is something many people on campus have taken for granted, but it is time for everyone to pitch in.
“(The administration) thought it was kind of inherently unfair that we charged students for parking and not anybody else,” he said.
Benson said he has paid almost $1,000 a year for a parking spot at other universities, and the reduction in enrollment SUU is experiencing necessitates change.
Laura McAneney, administrative assistant in the tuition office, said her daughter goes to college in San Diego and pays more than $30 for parking, so she doesn’t see it as a problem.
“If she wants to park on campus, she has to pay $250 a semester, so I don’t think $30 is a big deal,” McAneney said. “If it means they are going to keep the parking lot maintained, I don’t mind paying a little extra.”
Ballard said she gathered information on other Utah universities’ parking fees to compare to SUU’s prices.
“Before this increase, we had the lowest parking fees in the state,” Ballard said. “For example, the average fee for faculty and staff parking at the University of Utah is $217 a year.”
According to Ballard’s research, only Dixie State University has a lower average parking fee for students, at $20 a year, while students at Utah State University pay an average of $108 for a parking permit.
Lauren Schwanz, a senior psychology major from Fond Du Lac, Wisc., said $30 a year is not bad compared to what her friends pay at other colleges.
“At the same time, we are in a more rural area, and we don’t have the option of using public transportation, so it makes sense to pay less to park,” she said.
Kimmi Davis, a senior psychology major from Cedar City, said she thinks students pay enough in tuition and fees, and parking fees should not be raised at all.
“There are not enough parking spaces as it is, and I feel like they should give us more spaces, not raise the price of parking,” she said. “I would feel better about paying more if the money was going toward putting in more spaces.”
Benson said the state provides universities with guidelines for the number of parking spaces they should have, based on their student and faculty population.
“We are actually in excess of what we are required to have,” he said. “But I know that doesn’t make you feel any better at 7:30 in the morning when you can’t find a parking space.”
The university is always looking for ways to expand parking, but there are no immediate plans to add new parking because of the added expense, Benson said.
There are 3,283 parking spots, and in Fall semester there were 3,217 parking permits sold, Ballard said.
Roeder said the campus has enough parking, but not enough of the “convenient spaces” that most people prefer to use. A lot of spaces remain open in areas where parking is free, he said.
“Free parking is still available if people are willing to park in the open lots,” Roeder said. “The reality is that those aren’t terribly convenient, but they are still free.”
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Casey Corbridge, a junior psychology major from Cedar City, said what upsets him most about the new parking policy is that those with an SUU license plate will have to buy a parking decal as well, raising the total fee to $40 if they want the same benefits the license plate offers now.
Corbridge said he has a plate now, but doesn’t think he is going to get it renewed next year.
“It seems kind of unreasonable to me to have to pay $40,” he said. “That is quite a bit, and most college students can’t afford that.”
Roeder said it might take a little while for some people to get used to the changes.
“We regret the fact that some people might be disappointed and slightly frustrated,” he said. “The reality is they are going to pay a little bit more than they have in the past, but it’s not a whole lot and it’s a pretty reasonable expense.”