UNT proposes hike to parking permit prices

Portion of additional funds would help pay for cost of new garage
0424parkingsm.jpgWith the planned opening of a new parking garage in August, the University of North Texas is proposing an increase in the price of parking permits, in part to offset the garages cost and to pay for the upkeep of parking lots across campus.

The proposal is pending approval from UNT President Lane Rawlins.

We are not just increasing these [permit prices] to pay for the garage, said Joe Richmond, director of parking and transportation. The cost of doing business is going up.

Parking services are an auxiliary function that doesnt receive state funding, he said. The money for maintenance, salaries and equipment comes from parking permits and fines.

Its a self-supporting unit, Richmond said of parking services.

The university spent $500,000 recently to resurface two parking lots at Discovery Park.

There is constant maintenance required for the lots, he said.

Eight types of parking permits will potentially be affected by the increase. The permits do not allow access to the new garage.

We based the decision on the cost/convenience factor, Richmond said of the amount each permit fee was increased.

One of the largest increases is the price of a permit for a teaching fellow. Richmond said the university proposed that increase because there is already a lot of demand for faculty/staff spaces, which is where teaching fellows are parking.

Its a small group, Richmond said. They were already accessing their building as students.

He said teaching fellows arent full-time employees but are taking spaces away from full-time employees, creating excess demand.

Bob Bland, a professor of public administration, said the university needs to offer better information about the need for substantial increases in the price of permits.

Bland, who has been with the university for about 29 years, said this is one of the largest increases he has seen.

I think what is driving this and what I think we need a better handle on is the new parking garage, he said.

He asked why parking permit prices need to be increased if there is a separate fee to use the parking garage and buying a permit will not allow access to the garage.

When the university decided to build the new parking garage, located on the corner of Avenue A and Highland Street, it anticipated that it would be necessary to raise permit prices.

Initially the parking garage will not be self-sufficient, Richmond said.

The 953-space garage is costing about $20 million to build and the debt service and operating costs are about $1.4 million, he said.

But the parking permits will not allow people to park in the garage, Richmond said.

The permits for surface parking will not allow you to park in the garage, Richmond said. Users of the garage will either buy an annual contract or they will pay daily or hourly.

Richmond said the parking garage was built because campus space is valuable and academic buildings have taken the place of former parking lots.

The new Business Leadership Building was built on a surface parking lot, he said.

The university needed to find a way to replace the parking spaces that once existed there, so it decided to build the new parking garage across the street.

Its not mandatory, Richmond said. Nobody has to buy a parking permit.

He suggests that students, faculty and staff consider biking or walking to work. UNT has 2,500 bike spaces and 50 more are planned outside the new parking garage, he said.

The university built the new garage based on the price increases, but Rawlins hasnt approved them yet. He is expected to make the decision soon.

Rawlins said he wouldnt sign off until the parking and transportation department talked with faculty, staff and students.
University of North Texas
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