Biggest campus, smallest loss

More money problems for USF were brought to light after the release of the 2004 Operation Audit conducted by the Auditor General’s Office showed $1,317,577 in unpaid parking violations.According to Manuel Lopez, interim director for Parking and Transportation Services, only $1,122 of the outstanding violations are from the Tampa campus.

“I can’t speak for the other campuses,” he said, “but we were the smallest of the three pieces.”Tardiness in placing holds on some delinquent student accounts was also mentioned in the report, as was an absence of identifying account information on the parking citations.

The audit combined the Tampa, Sarasota and St. Petersburg campuses.

According to Lopez, the impact of the losses will not be a factor in parking permit costs, as these rates are driven by construction on things such as the new parking garages. Lopez also said that the $1,060,000 collected from parking citations last year is minimal compared to the primary income for Parking and Transportation Services, which is the sale of parking permits.

According to the USF Parking Services Annual Financial Report, the Tampa campus sold $5,134,355 worth of parking permits for the fiscal year of 2004-2005.

Lopez said that student transportation access fees ranks slightly less than permit sales in the amount of money brought in for Parking and Transportation Services. Students are charged the transportation access fee of $2.25 per credit hour. With 726,466 total credit hours registered for the period measured, Parking and Transportation Services collected approximately $1,634,548, according to the Annual Financial Report.

This is followed by citations, advertising placed in the Bull Runner shuttles and miscellaneous fees to pay for things such as construction, signage, shuttle service, permit distribution and salaries. According to Lopez, the Parking and Transportation Services is an auxiliary operation, meaning that it collects no money from the state.

In the past, according to Lopez, the state made it impossible to look up contact information on permit delinquents due to privacy for people’s information that may be irrelevant for the investigation or personal. As of two years ago, this was changed, leaving only out-of-state parking violators safe from information search. Lopez said that at the time of the audit, these changes had not yet been activated, leaving Parking and Transportation Services without assistance from institutions such as the Department of Motor Vehicles.

According to Lopez, a new system has been implemented and all concerns posted are mentioned in the audit – such as the absence of placing holds on delinquent student accounts and lack of identifying account information – have been addressed. Lopez says this is mostly due to the online parking registration that has been implemented, which enters information such as license number and address into files, and can be done whether permits are purchased online or in person. In addition to complete information, this new system also allows a way to check the history of parking delinquencies for multiple offenders.

According to Lopez, there were 77,410 parking citations issued last year to predominantly students, but also to staff and others, such as visitors. Of these, only slightly more than 30,000 were for money. The others were warnings.