UI parking fees to climb 7 percent this year

UI parking fees to climb 7 percent this year

URBANA – The bad news is a parking permit at the University of Illinois will cost 7 percent more this year.

The good news is a parking permit will cost 7 percent more this year.

That's right. Parking fees are up, but not by as much as they could have been.

Instead of a 13 percent hike in parking fees, UI faculty, staff and students are looking at a 7 percent increase.

Good news or bad news, a 7 percent increase is still a decent chunk of change.

The increase translates to about $24 to $56 more per year, depending on the type of parking permit you have.

"It eats into people's incomes," said Tom Teper, who works in the UI Library's preservation department. He chooses to walk to work for several reasons, such as the exercise and fresh air, but also because he doesn't want to spend the $427 it would cost to park in a rental lot for a year or $854 for a 24-hour departmental rental space.

"It's a nagging issue," said Professor Barclay Jones, of parking on campus. Jones, who works in, and parks behind, the nuclear engineering lab, heads the UI Senate's Faculty Benefits Committee.

This spring the committee drafted and the UI Senate passed a resolution stating UI parking rates "have risen at yearly percentages considerably higher than inflation and parking fees should generate revenues necessary only to maintain structures and lots."

Parking fees last year also increased at about 7 percent, said Pam Voitik, director of campus services, which oversees parking. Before that, there were two years when rates were held steady; that was when faculty and staff did not receive any salary increases, she said.

"The increases were projected on the parking master plan, which calls for building five additional (parking) decks over a 10-year period," she said. "If we build all five as stated in the plan, to keep up with debt services associated with them, we'd have to do around a 13 to 15 percent increase per year."

Because the UI shelved plans for building a parking deck in central campus, at Sixth and Chalmers streets, the parking increase is not as high as UI Facilities and Services had previously planned. By not starting the project, the UI will not take on the additional debt.

The central campus parking deck is on hold pending the completion of several transportation and intermodal studies being conducted by the UI, the city of Champaign, Champaign County and the Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District, Voitik said.

Jones' committee has at times considered proposals for parking fees to be based on income, meaning people who earn less don't pay as much for parking. Rising parking fees put financial pressure on UI personnel who do not make a lot of money, he said.

Members of Service Employees International Union Local 73, who are food service and building service workers, have expressed concerns in the past about rising parking fees. And the Illinois Supreme Court earlier this year agreed to rule on whether or not the UI should bargain with the union over parking fees. No arguments have been scheduled yet.

In the meantime, the fee for parking in the shuttle lot near Assembly Hall will remain at $93 per year. That lot is for employees who ride the shuttle to campus. The $93 fee is much lower than the $427 faculty/staff rental permit or the $854 departmental 24-hour space rental.

"I think as parking rates increase more people will consider using the shuttle," Voitik said.

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