A task force with Washington State University Transportation Services is seeking public input for a possible hike to fees and fines associated with parking on campus that would take effect July 1.

According to the Transportation Services webpage, more expensive parking permits like orange, green and crimson permits would increase by $100, $50 and $40 a year respectively, while relatively affordable yellow and gray permits would increase by $20. Red and blue permits would be $15 more per year.

While many ticketable parking citations will not increase, fines for meter violations, including overstaying the paid-for period, will rise by $5, and fees for having no permit or the wrong permit will increase by $10.

Associate Director for WSU Transportation Services Chris Boyan said the reason for the hike is simple — his department relies entirely on revenues generated through fees and fines to maintain campus parking lots.

“We don’t get any state funds … we don’t get tuition dollars, we don’t get any paid funding, we use user-fees — so people who buy permits, put quarters in meters and that sort of thing is the revenue we have to work with,” Boyan said. “Parking construction and parking maintenance and repair is super capital-intensive — so the capital requirements are really what drive rates. It’s not the operational stuff, it’s not the people walking around issuing tickets.”

While there was a fee hike in the 2019-20 school year, there were no increases in the three years prior to that. Meanwhile, WSU’s parking structures and lots have continued to experience use and wear. According to a WSU news release, pavement maintenance and parking garage repairs are expected to cost about $529,000 and $230,000, respectively, in the coming fiscal year, with additional costs over the next several years expected to stretch into the millions.

If they don’t move forward with an increase in fees and fines, Boyan said his department will likely be forced to defer maintenance projects for another year.

“(Deferment is) not a viable solution,” Boyan said. “There’s stuff that we really need to get on and we’ve already deferred long enough. We’re not at a critical point where things are going to be crumbling and falling apart, but you don’t want to get to that point, because then you’re talking about rebuilds.”

While need for a fee hike is becoming more and more necessary from an operational perspective, many students are hesitant to embrace an increase in expenses when they’re already paying high sums for tuition.

“I used to have a (parking) pass and it was close to $500 already — so it’s like adding a fee to having accessibility to campus,” WSU senior Max Dwyer said.

“Parking passes are optional — there’s a lot of ways to get to campus and from what I know, a lot of people that I know have parking passes come from wealthier families,” senior Chris Kelly said. “So it is an optional fee. I mean, I walk to campus, so there’s other ways around it that aren’t horrendous, so it’s more like a kind of a luxury tax.”

Others, including Boyan, have pointed out that there are numerous transportation alternatives to driving. Boyan remarked Pullman has one of the best public transportation services in the state.

A complete list of possible hikes is available at https://transportation.wsu.edu/proposed-parking-rates-2020-2021. Boyan said those who wish to provide input to the task force should visit WSU Transportation Services’ website at transportation.wsu.edu. The comment period closes Monday.

Scott Jackson can be reached at (208) 883-4636, or by email to sjackson@dnews.com.

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