Parking permits create panic in students

Adam Wan 

Contributor

awan@unca.edu

UNC Asheville students and faculty wonder why permit prices for parking on campus have increased this year. 

“I sincerely dislike the price of the parking permit, considering I’m already paying over $20,000 in tuition,” said Courtney Garcia, a 22-year-old student from Northern Virginia.

Garcia, a senior at UNCA, said she’s not happy with the new price of the parking permit at $200 compared to last year’s $150 permit fee.

 “It’s good to know they’re actually doing something productive with our money but I feel like they could take it out of somewhere else,” Garcia said. 

Garcia said she isn’t happy with the price increase of the parking permits, but she still acknowledges UNCA remaining one of the cheaper campuses when it comes to the price of parking. 

“It’s a lot better than that of other universities and colleges,” Garcia said.

John Pierce, 64, from Richmond, Virginia, vice chancellor for administration and finance, attends to land acquisition for the university and oversees construction of campus buildings, facilities and parking lots.

“The price of a parking permit for students who park on campus is $200,” and that permit is good for one academic year, Pierce said. The increase from the 2018-19 academic year’s price of $150 to the current 2019-20 academic year is $50, according to Pierce. 

In North Carolina, for public universities the state does not appropriate funds for parking facilities. Parking fees on universities in North Carolina are the only sources of revenue for parking facilities and services, Pierce said.

“The price of permits for professors and staff on campus operates on a tiered system, that’s based on their income,” Pierce said. “For faculty and staff who make less than $45,000 annually, there is no increase from the previous academic year, and their permit remains at $100.” 

The next tier will naturally be charged more as their income is much higher, according to Pierce.

“For faculty and staff making between $45,000 to $75,000 anually, there is a $65 increase from the previous academic year, and they are going to be paying $230 this year,” Pierce said. 

Bill Haggard, the vice chancellor for student affairs, manages student affairs and supervises the chief of police Eric Boyce and as such, one of his responsibilities is to public safety, which also entails parking. 

“For faculty and staff making $75,000 to $100,000 anually, there is a $95 increase from the previous academic year, and they will be paying $290 this year,” Pierce said. 

There are four tiers of employees, the higher the salary band is, the higher the increase, Haggard said. 

“For faculty and staff making over $100,000 anually, there will be a $125 increase from the previous academic year and they will be paying $350 this year,” Pierce said.

Before the increased fees, UNCA had the lowest fees of any school in the UNC system.

“We have the lowest fees of any school in the UNC system,” Pierce said. 

With the new fees in place, UNCA’s current position of having the lowest fees will change. 

“We compared the parking cost in the UNC system and this will put our parking prices about in the middle for students,” Haggard said.

The increases in permit price were implemented over a two year period, Haggard said.

The decision to raise parking permit fees was collective.

“The parking fee increase was approved by the board of trustees in the spring of 2018,” Haggard said.

In the 2017-18 academic year, Boyce, Pierce and Haggard held open meetings to share with students and faculty why there was a need for an increase in parking fees.

“The need for the fee increase, was to improve our parking facilities.”  

The permit prices were increased to fund a few new projects, the paving of P1, P29 on Vivian Street and the buying of the land as well as the construction of a new parking lot next to the Covenant Reformed Presbyterian Church, Pierce said. 

Along with the cost of the actual land, both the paving and the lighting were included in the new projects. There wasn’t a preexisting lot near the church before hand, the parking lot is being built from scratch along with lighting for the lot.

“Over the past summer, P1 and P29 have been paved and improved,” Haggard said. Both lots are now usable and improved.

Everyone is paying, every parking permit fee pays for a part of the renovation of the old lots and the construction of the new lot.  

“Everyone is paying for it, not just the students. Students, faculty and staff are all paying higher rates,” Haggard said.

“In over five years, the construction of the new lot, and the paving of P1 and P29 will be paid for,” Pierce said. 

The new parking lot at the church is one block away from campus. 

“The church can use the parking lot on sunday and the students can use it during the week,” Pierce said. 

P1 as well as P29 are lots that aren’t frequented by students due to the distance from the lots to the campus. 

“There’s a long term plan to address the unused lots on campus that noone uses, but there are also plans to fully utilize lots P1 and P29,” Pierce said. 

Pierce said the main goal of the operations are to increase our campus parking capacity. 

“The co-use of the parking with the church creates great synergies and a flat walk from the church parking lot to the university,” Pierce said.

First year students will officially be able to park on campus next year.

“Next year starting fall of 2020, first year students will be able to park on campus, due to the expansion of the parking facilities and due to the parking fees,” Haggard said.

Parking permit fees aren’t expected to increase in the future, he said.

“After this academic year, there will be no further increases for the next few years,” Haggard said.

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