News Staff Writer
UNC Asheville pushes to charge students $100 more for parking permits by 2020.
Proposed parking projects, estimated to cost $1.94 million, include paving lots P1 and P29 and acquiring part of the Covenant Reformed Presbyterian Church parking lot on Edgewood, said Eric Boyce, UNC Asheville’s assistant vice chancellor for public safety.
Boyce presented proposed parking fees and projects to the Student Government Association last week.
“No state appropriations, in other words, taxpayer dollars or student tuition are allowed to fund any parking projects. Anytime we look to do parking enhancements, parking additions, we have to come up with a way to fund that through fees,” Boyce said.
Boyce said there has not been a fee increase since 2012 and the proposed fees will apply to different groups who park on campus.
“To fund these projects or the payment debt annually, we have to increase the fees for students, faculty and staff,” Boyce said.
Currently, the parking permit fee for those who park on campus is $100.
The parking fee would increase to $150 for the 2018-2019 academic year, Boyce said, and during 2019-2020 academic year the parking permit fee would increase to $200.
There were 446 residential permits purchased for the 402 residential spaces available, Boyce said. The 3,642 parking permits for non-residential and OLLI students greatly out weights the 959 spaces available for non-residents. Faculty and staff have 606 parking spaces and 688 permits.
Faculty and staff would have a graduated fee increase based on salary during the next two years, Boyce said. Faculty and staff who earn more than $70,000 would have an $80 increase to their parking fee during the 2018-2019 academic year and the following year, bringing their permit fee to $180.
Faculty and staff earning between $45,000 to $70,000 would have to pay an additional $50 fee and $50 more the following year. Faculty and staff earning less than $45,000 would pay $30 more for both years. Boyce presented these numbers to SGA in a slideshow.
The fees would go toward the annual debt resulting from the proposed parking projects. Boyce said. According to Vice Chancellor of Administration and Finance John Pierce, the annual debt would be $492,800.
The annual debt would take about five years to pay off, and the price for the church parking lot is not yet finalized, Pierce said.
“We are in discussions with the church in terms of the price of the land. The dilemma in that negotiation is if you look at flat land that’s close to the university, there’s not much,” Pierce said. “So it’s a desirable place, but the conversations are reasonable.”
The potential projects will not start anytime soon, as these negotiations must be reasonable for all parties involved, and designs for the projects must be created.
“We’ll start design likely in the July time frame, do as much as we can to start,” Pierce said. “It may be March of 2019 before we’re able to pave the lot.”
The proposed lots to be paved must go through the city zoning process Pierce said. The proposed paving will close some lots for a time being, although Boyce said there will be an increase in parking next year.
“We will be getting parking back online in P20,” Boyce said. “Students will feel a significant impact once the construction projects are over.”
Student representatives at the SGA meeting, including SGA vice president Lauren Bulla, asked Boyce questions to clarify the possible implementation of parking fees.
“I have two questions. You talked about paving P1 and P29. Do you all have an estimate on how many additional spaces would be available if it is paved?” Bulla said. “Also, you all are coming to talk about this idea to see what we all think about adding money to the parking fee. But, if for some reason we said no, where would this money come from otherwise?”
The university would not be able to do the projects unless the fees are charged, Boyce explained. Boyce shared the current number of parking spaces and potential amount of additional parking spaces.
“In P29 there’s 109 over in there, and we feel like we add pretty easily 20 to 30,” Boyce “And then in P1 there’s 105. I feel like that could be at around 130.”
The university is considering adding a parking deck to lot P11, Boyce said.
“We’re also in the process of a feasibility study for what it would cost to increase our capacity over by the Reuters and Sherrill Center in P11,” Boyce said. “Maybe, building it up and doing a deck there, but we know that that’s going to cost us $20,000 to $25,000 (per space). We don’t have the capacity to do that project now, that’s a master plan project.”
Tim Hussey, SGA president, said the conversation of the proposed parking fee and projects would be discussed more.
“You all seemed passionate about this so I’m going to bring that same energy to the Proposed Parking Fee Forum,” Hussey said.
The Proposed Parking Fee Forum on April 4 will allow students to learn about the future fees, voice their opinions and ask questions about the topic.
“We’re constantly evaluating how to best suit a user group with the spaces that they need,” Boyce said.
The proposed parking projects need a source of payment, Boyce said, which would come from any additional fees.
“All the campuses in the UNC System have to fund parking maintenance, parking operation, and the construction through fees. And for this university, that fee is our parking fee,” Boyce said.