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It’s official: Parking costs to rise

Students will pay more in parking and housing fees this fall because of several decisions made at a Board of Trustees meeting Thursday.

BOT members finalized parking and housing rate increases one week after a Finance and Audit Workgroup approved the same proposals.

BOT members finalized a 20 percent increase across the board for all parking permit rates and a housing rate increase of between 4 and 6.3 percent.

The parking increase will raise an annual nonresident student permit from $105 to $126 and an annual resident student permit from $130 to $156.

Annual gold permits will go up $52, from $260 to $312.

Parking and Transportation Services originally proposed a 20 percent increase compounded over five years, but BOT members only approved the first year’s increase. BOT members will have to approve each year’s increase on an annual basis.

The parking increases will help pay $1.4 million of the debt each year for 20 years on a fourth parking garage. The $18 million garage, which will be located near Magnolia Apartments, is slated to provide 2,000 new spaces.

“Raising the parking fees is not something we really want to do,” Chairman of the BOT Dick Beard said. “We’re kind of in a lose-lose situation if we want to have people continue to park on this campus.”

According to Assistant Vice President of Campus Business Services Jeff Mack, there are a total of 18,500 parking spaces on campus. About 16,000 of these are surface parking spaces, which means they are in parking lots rather than garages.

Transportation and Parking Services is projected to sell 45,000 permits next fall, Mack said.

To alleviate parking constraints and make way for new buildings, Facilities Planning has incorporated seven parking garages into the University’s 10-year Campus Master Plan.

The plan, which utilizes the construction of new buildings on existing parking lots, was also approved at Thursday’s meeting.

According to Director of Facilities Planning Ronald Hanke, the projected buildings will eat up 5,000 spaces. Additional garages would provide a total of 11,000 additional spaces, he said.Although she understood the need for parking enhancements, Faculty Senate President and trustee Susan Greenbaum was opposed to the increase.

“I understand the fiscal realities, and I think that this is not a situation where we can just talk about things without being realistic,” Greenbaum said. “But I also think there might be a way to develop a sliding scale for staff.”

Other board members disagreed, however.

“For a person who doesn’t want to spend this money, there are other options,” trustee Kiran Patel said.

Mack said more people could utilize Park-n-Ride spaces, which will increase $7 from $35 to $42 next fall, in conjunction with the Bull Runner shuttle.

PTS also finances free rides for students through the HARTline bus system.

But Greenbaum, who was concerned about other administrative handlings, said she wanted more open discussion before decisions were made.

“We would like to see a more open and consultative process before something as drastic as this occurs,” she said.

Faculty union President Roy Weatherford was prepared to discuss parking increases but was not allowed to speak until after the decision.

“I think the leaders of the other unions would be perfectly happy to tell you what they think, what they’re concerned about, if it had not been dropped into the board that you’re not supposed to talk to them,” Weatherford said.

Housing rate increases will offset the cost of utility expenses, which are projected to be about $475,000 more next year.

Single apartment rates (for a nine-month contract) at Magnolia Apartments will see the biggest increase from $5,760 to $6,120 next academic year.

Andros, Castor and Beta double apartment rates are seeing the lowest dollar amount increase, from $3,108 to $3,304.

“As we all know, energy costs are significant in this economy,” Beard said. “And we want to be sure we cover our costs.”

USF President Judy Genshaft announced USF’s enrollment into the Carnegie Classification of Higher Education and the continued ranking among other colleges as a top-tier research University.

Master’s degree programs were also approved in Criminal Justice, Statistics and Finance.

Beard and other members of the board were also concerned about the drafting of a bill that could hinder the process of BOT governance.

The bill would require the Board of Governors to develop guidelines in important operating areas such as academic policies, purchasing and hiring of University personnel.

According to Associate Vice President for Government Relations Jeffrey Muir, the University would have to adhere to the same guidelines as other Florida universities.

“It’s pretty critical to whether or not the system as we’ve known it for five years will continue,” Beard said.