To fee or not to fee

Two new parking structures on campus could cost students more than they expected next year as students’ annual parking permits will increase by $5. And that wasn’t the original plan, said student body president Mike Griffin.

Griffin, also a member for the Board of Trustees, said at a BOT work group on academic and campus environment Wednesday, the $2 per-credit- hour transportation fee was approved last semester with the agreement that students’ permit fees wouldn’t increase in the fall.

However, Greg Sylvester, director for Parking and Transportation Services, said the increase is needed to help pay the cost of parking structures and traffic improvements.

“I can recalculate the numbers, and we could make (the revenue) up in subsequent years,” Sylvester said. “Or, we can have a good year with the revenue we need.”

Griffin said he doesn’t mind the transportation fee if it is going to build parking garages, but he said the parking permit fee increase is not necessary.

“We need nice looking structures, but I feel bad telling a student you’re going to have an increase,” Griffin said. “It’s not a good idea. It’s only $5, but I have students who are upset.”

Sylvester said he has researched the parking departments at other universities, such as the University of Florida, and found that they were able to increase revenue with the transportation fees.

“UF has a transportation fee and they haven’t decreased the permit fees,” Sylvester said. “I’m not saying there aren’t other (options).”

The work group approved the parking permit fees and the parking structures plan at the meeting and will be passed on to the BOT May 16 for final approval.

However, before any final decisions are made, Griffin wants the committee to meet with Sylvester again to discuss the permit fees, as well.

“It’s not like I walked in here today and just said, ‘This is how I feel,'” Griffin said. “Here we are, it’s almost May, and they’re pushing it up to $105.”

Lee Arnold, also a USF BOT, said the permit increase is appropriate to maintain revenue.

“You don’t want to leave yourself hanging,” Arnold said. “You start with a revenue model that meets infrastructure needs.”

But Arnold said before the board makes final approval of the parking structures plan he would like to review the architecture plans to see why it is going to cost about $12,000.

“It better be pretty, or there’s money going off somewhere that we don’t understand,” Arnold said. “What we don’t understand is why it costs so much.”

Sylvester said that besides the cost for the structure, he had to add the cost of traffic improvements around the area.

“We’re calculating for the worst,” Sylvester said. “We have to have the bond before we can even have a deal with the contractor.”

Contact Grace Agostin at