Remember the days when students had to arrive to campus 20-30 minutes before their classes to snag a parking spot — or else they were doomed to cycle aimlessly through the lots? Unlike previous years, there is less demand for parking spots on the UCCS campus.
According to Jim Spice, the executive director of Parking and Transporation, parking lots are anticipated to remain uncrowded during the Spring 2022 semester since some students, faculty and staff members will continue to learn and work in remote formats.
“I’ve been here 23 years, and up until COVID, [student enrollment for] spring has always gone down slightly from fall. So, I think a lot of it is going to depend on how many people buy a parking permit. … A lot of staff are working from home now. We are seeing a lot less employees buying permits as well,” Spice said.
“Good news is that there’s lots and lots of open parking. Bad news is that we’re going to have a difficult time making budget.”
Spice is assuring students that the cost of parking permits will not go up for the Spring 2022 semester, but if there was to be an increase in permit fees, it would be in Fall 2022. “We have stayed consistent for permit fees for the past three years. I am trying to get it approved that we do get an increase. Ten or 12 years ago, we went through a time period where we didn’t increase anything for seven years in row … we had to increase that fee by 20% in one year, and people were mad to have that big of a jump.”
“We vowed at that point to never again wait that long and then jump up the fee. We should always do somewhere around 2% or 3% every year, which is the cost of living. Because of COVID, we didn’t feel like increasing fees, but now we are stuck again with 6-8% down. So, I don’t know, but I think we need to,” Spice said.
Parking and Transportation is an auxiliary-funded department, meaning it is fully self-funded. “The only revenue that we receive are those who are buying parking and then citation revenue, and citation revenue is set up so that any money that we bring in beyond what it costs to have an enforcement program … goes to a student scholarship over at the daycare center across the street,” Spice said.
But the effects of COVID-19 have impacted the amount of money that enforcement brings in; fewer people are on campus, so there are fewer violations.
Pre-COVID-19, this scholarship was usually somewhere between $20,000 and $25,000. With COVID-19, this year, parking enforcement is slated to bring in only $13,000 or $14,000 for the scholarship, according to Spice.
Parking and Transportation has sold the same number of student permits that they sold pre-COVID-19; it is employee permit sales that are down, according to Spice. “I think we’re probably down 75% about what we normally sell for employee permits.”
The student permit revenue for this fiscal year is $1,313,257.04. For employee permits, the revenue is $118,166 and for hourly parking, $108,743.
Parking and Transportation’s revenue budget for the year is $3,127,942. The revenue they spend includes payroll, benefits for employees, travel, utilities, etc.
The department also pays for the bond payment of the two parking garages and an auxiliary shared service fee which pays for maintenance, marketing and any help with the accounting system. They also put money into a reserve fund, which is for a large balloon payment due beginning in 2037.
“If everything goes to budget, we are going to end the year with $123,000 extra that we are going to put into reserves. That sounds like a lot of money, but our maintenance fees, in addition to what we pay auxiliary facilities, it doesn’t count mill and overlay (repaving parking lots),” Spice said.
Last year, an internal audit system recommended that Parking and Transportation Services create an annual report. “That annual report will tell a very clear story on here’s what we make, here’s what we spend, and this is why we have to charge what we charge for parking.
“We are not here to make money. We are a nonprofit. We are simply trying to pay the bills that we got,” Spice said.
Spice explained that their model for parking is like a bullseye approach to the main resources with the most expensive “ring” being central campus — where the library, most faculty offices and most classrooms are located.
The border lots are discounted from the main campus all the way out to the 500 series lots, which are included for what all students pay in the Transporation and Safety fee. This includes free parking and free shuttle services.
“Anybody that does not want to buy a parking permit can get the free 500 series permit and parking in one of the 500 series lots and ride the free shuttle to and from their car to the main campus,” Spice said. “I think this is relatively unique. Most universities don’t have that. Most universities don’t have free parking; you just have to buy a permit.”