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Students and staff consider price increase unreasonable

As the threat of an annual 20 percent increase for parking permits looms, many at the University are puzzled that Parking and Transportation Services has requested such an expensive price hike for the next five years.

“I think this is all the result of poor planning in my view,” College of Education Coordinator Maria Paul said. “People who are in power, they need to sit down and do some creative thinking so that the people – the employees who are making low wages and the students of USF – don’t have to bear the burden. Twenty percent every year? That’s just unheard of.”

The viewpoint isn’t unique among faculty, however.

“I think it’s ridiculous they’re going to try to charge us more money each year,” business major Josh Heinrich said. “We already pay way too much to park anyway, and we’re not going to see the improvements in the time we’re going to be here.”

As of 2006, nonresident students pay $105 for an annual parking pass. If the fee increases are approved each year, nonresident students could pay close to $260 in 2011.

According to Director for Parking and Transportation Services Manuel Lopez, students can appreciate not having to pay for the Collins Blvd. Parking Garage.

“They obviously won’t see the new ones,” Lopez said. “We’re trying to move on this as quickly as we can so that the most people benefit from it.”

The increased parking costs will help pay for $1.4 million in bonds to finance Parking Garage IV. The new garage, costing nearly $18 million, should provide 2,000 new spaces.

“We’re really just strictly paying for the debt service,” Lopez said. “We’re not making any additional money, and the increase is to cover it.”

Parking Garage III, on the corner of Laurel and Holly, should offer 1,500 new spaces. The $12-million garage is slated for completion by the end of this summer, Lopez said.

Even with two garages on the way, demand for increased enrollment and on-campus housing has forced the University to build more parking garages. According to Campus Master Plans, there are a total of eight new garages on the way.

“It’s really at the point we’re at,” Lopez said. “There’s only minimal amount of acreage on campus that’s developable.”

When Walter Rowe first came to USF in 1973, parking was $10 a year. Next year, as a senior archivist for the Library, he may have to pay $186. If the increases continue on into 2010, he may have to pay close to $320 for an annual staff parking space.

“The one lucky thing about this University is we’ve got a lot of land,” Rowe said. “It’s not like UNC, where they’ve got a small bit of land, or Yale, where they’ve got a small bit of land. We’re very lucky; we have a lot of open areas here they could turn into parking. This is not fine property here.”Fallout from the parking increases could place an incredible amount of strain on some at USF.Vanessa Augustine, a senior clerk for the College of Education, said the increases might place her even further below the poverty line.

“I’m lucky because I live with my parents, and that’s pretty much the only way I can actually manage to survive on the salary I make. My dad told me that I should apply for welfare.”Paul and others have suggested the University revamp the increases to make costs more affordable for low-wage workers.

“There are too many people here who are underpaid, who are making low wages,” Paul said. “I mean, I have a very decent salary, but there are other people who don’t. I think having a sliding scale would be the fair way to go.”

The Board of Trustees will vote on the proposed increases March 2. According to Lopez, suggestions and feedback can be made through the Administrative Professionals Council, the University Services Support Personnel Advisory Council, the Faculty Senate, Student Government and Parking and Transportation Services.