Parking Services collects $800,000 in tickets per year

Jackie Valley

Q and A debunks department’s myths

The bright yellow envelopes anchored on car windshields typically don’t translate into good days for the car’s owners. At $15 a pop for first and second offenses, those on-campus parking tickets can add up, especially if left unattended.

Several years ago, a number of students owed Parking Services money that could purchase thousands of those yellow envelopes — bills exceeding $800, with some more than $1,000 per academic year, said Larry Emling, director of Parking Services.

“A high bill now would be in the $300-$400 range,” he said, “although we probably still get a few that are higher than that.”

Emling credits the smaller number of extreme parking violation bills to Parking Services’ current approach to enforcement: escalating ticket fines and booting vehicles that have reached the frequent violator status — meaning people who have amassed nine or more tickets, paid or unpaid, in a given academic year.

Still miffed about your parking ticket or confused about how Parking Services works? Larry Emling, director of Parking Services, answered common questions about parking tickets and provided insight into how the operation works.

Q: How many parking tickets does Parking Services distribute on an average day?

Parking Services employees issue about 300 parking tickets on average Monday through Thursday. Fridays yield fewer tickets because there aren’t as many people on campus.

“If you break that down (over the day), between 65 and 75 lots, it’s not a lot per hour, per day,” he said.

Q: Does Parking Services ticket on weekends?

Yes, some tickets are still issued on the weekends. Parking Services selects various lots to monitor each weekend.

Q: When does Parking Services issue the most tickets?

Parking Services issues more tickets in the fall because of higher enrollment numbers. Parking Services issued about 24,000 tickets last fall and expects to issue about 20,000 this spring.

“Also, in the fall, you have more new students and students who have different permits from the prior year who need to learn the regulations as to where they can or cannot park,” Emling said. “By mid-fall semester and definitely by spring, most students have a better understanding of the rules.”

Q: How much money do parking tickets generate each year?

They bring in about $800,000 each year.

Q: Where does that money go?

The budget for Parking Services, which is a self-supporting, auxiliary department, is about $4 million. Revenue comes from four sources: parking permits, parking tickets, the Student Center pay lot, parking meters and other similar self-pay parking.

That revenue goes toward paying Parking Services’ expenses, which include labor, lot repairs, snow plowing, vehicles, security at the stadium parking lot, lighting, campus blue-light phones and a water runoff fee to the city, among other things. Parking Services also pays a service fee to the university because of its status as an auxiliary department.

Snow plowing and removal cost more than usual this winter — about $225,000 compared to the $175,000 normally spent each winter.

Q: After paying expenses, where does extra money go?

Any extra money goes into a “plant fund,” a separate fund for future projects. Each year, between $1 million and $1.5 million spills over to the plant fund.

This year’s plant fund money will help cover the costs of renovations to the 40-year-old Music and Speech parking lot. The renovations, at a price tag of at least $1 million, will include new lighting, sidewalks, curbs, catch basins and possible upgrades to underground drainage systems.

Q: How many tickets does Parking Services issue each year?

The number of tickets issued each year has decreased in recent years because of escalating ticket prices and booting of cars — strategies designed to deter people from accumulating multiple tickets.

Parking Services expects to issue about 49,000 tickets through fiscal year 2010, which ends June 30. That’s down from the 52,000 tickets issued last year and about a third fewer than the 73,351 tickets issued in fiscal year 2005.

“Most people, when they park illegally, they make a conscious decision to do so,” Emling said. “You can make the argument that you were only there five minutes, but we don’t know.”

He said the goal of ticketing isn’t to amass wealth through fines, but rather to provide spaces for the actual permit holders.

Q: How many “free passes” for tickets do students receive?

Parking Services automatically voids one ticket per license plate for the life of that plate. All other tickets need to be appealed and are reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

“Sometimes people will say your signage is wrong, and we’ll go out and look,” he says. “On rare occasions, they’ll be right.”

Q: What happens if students don’t pay their parking fines?

A $5 late fee is added to unpaid tickets after seven business days. After 10 days, unpaid fines are transferred to the Bursar’s office.

Graduating students still can walk at the ceremony and receive their diplomas, but the university withholds their academic transcripts until they pay charges on their Bursar accounts. Eventually, unpaid charges will be transferred to the office of the Ohio Attorney General.

“It will get collected one way or another,” Emling says. “Your best bet is to just get it resolved before you leave.”

Q: Do any students get special parking privileges?

The student members of the Board of Trustees receive the same permits as regular trustees. But space constraints in the past few years have made it impossible to give special parking passes to student government members and other student leaders.

“Everything is sold by class standing,” Emling said. “Once we go through initial sales, we’ll look at special cases.”

Parking Services spends the first two to four weeks of each semester assessing space availability. Afterward, they try to find space for special requests. For example, Parking Services has made special exceptions in the past for students splitting their time between the Kent campus and regional campuses if their time getting to each place is limited.

“It’s case by case,” he said. “Sometimes we can help out. Sometimes we can’t.”

Contact enterprise reporter Jackie Valley at [email protected].