Permit prices could rise by 20 percent … again

A subcommittee of the USF Board of Trustees will decide today whether to approve a 20 percent increase in parking rates next year.

The BOT Finance and Audit Workgroup will review a proposal from Parking and Transportation Services that would raise the price of parking permits for students, faculty and staff at the USF Tampa and St. Petersburg campuses for the fall 2007 academic year. If approved, the BOT could still reject the proposal when it meets in March.

Annual non-resident student permits would go up $25, from $126 to $151, and annual resident permits would go up $31, from $156 to $187. Prices for faculty Gold Staff permits would increase $62, from $342 to $410.

Last year, the Workgroup approved a 20 percent increase in parking rates for the current academic year, but it also rejected Parking and Transportation Services’ proposal for a 20 percent annual increase in parking rates for each of the next five years. USF employees and students opposed to the increases submitted a petition with 1,500 signatures to the BOT before last year’s Workgroup meeting.

The increased rates would help pay the debt needed to finance the construction of three existing parking garages and a fourth planned garage, Parking and Transportation Services Director Manuel Lopez said.

“The money is just going to finance the debt on the garages,” Lopez said. “Nothing else.”

Lopez said debts still exist for the Crescent Hill Garage, the $12 million Collins Boulevard Garage and the $16 million Laurel Drive Garage, which opened in December. Additionally, a planned $18 million garage near Magnolia Apartments, Garage IV, will require $1.4 million per year in debt financing alone, Lopez said. Though costly, new garages need to be built, Lopez said. Last year, USF sold nearly 46,500 permits and only has 19,000 spots on campus.

‘That’s the most telling statistic,” Lopez said.

The Laurel Garage and Garage IV were planned with future parking demands in mind, Lopez said. Spots for the new Center for Advanced Healthcare, proposed in the 2007-2012 USF Master Plan, will be supplied by the Laurel Garage. Garage IV will provide spaces for a planned residence hall near Magnolia Apartments.

“Rather than having a building where no one can park, we’re trying to anticipate the need,” Lopez said.