Parking Services aims to increase efficiency

Dave Yochum

Parking Services is shifting into overdrive.

Hoping to increase customer service and find ways to decrease its $1.3 million debt, Kent State’s parking division is working to evaluate changes that would allow the department to operate better and more efficiently.

According to Tom Clapper, general manager of Parking Services, the department is looking to improve from within – using a “six-sigma” process to review and determine the value of its services.

Included in the review is an examination of the organization’s structure and a peer review comparing Kent State’s parking division to that of other Ohio universities.

Parking Services will also strive to become more pedestrian-oriented by determining how more thru-traffic can be moved away from the university.

“We will be looking at how we can improve customer relations, looking at traffic aspects with the geography department and improving transportation all around,” explained Clapper.

Larry Emling, assistant manager of Parking Services, said the department will be adopting a more holistic philosophy in the coming months.

“We are trying to become as efficient as possible while increasing revenue,” said Emling. “We’ll be spending money wisely – looking at our existing staff and seeing how we can use our people and resources in the most effective way.”

Finding different ways to increase funds is nothing new for Parking Services.

In April 2005, the Parking Services Advisory Committee endorsed an increase of parking rates and fines in response to insufficient fee and fine revenue. Citing a need for lot repairs, adding more spaces and record costs for asphalt and snow removal for the fee and fine increase, Parking Services is looking for additional help in covering the cost of projects and re-pavements that went over budget.

“Because of parking improvements and lot re-pavements, sometimes our projects end up costing three or four times more than what they were originally budgeted,” said Emling. “You run into unforeseen problems and can’t stop in the middle of a project – you just have to pay more to complete it.”

Funded solely through fees and fines, Parking Services total income for fiscal year 2004 to 2005 was $3.6 million, yet the department only ended with a net budget of $800,000. Because Parking Services does not receive any financial support from Kent State or the state of Ohio, the net budget is counted upon to eliminate debt owed to the university for funding projects and re-pavements.

To help increase the budget, Parking Services already started becoming more efficient and economical this past January.

Since the first of the year, parking ticketers have been used to collect meter-money and look after parking machines instead of a maintenance staff. Prior to the new year, a separate crew for meter collection and machine maintenance would have been used instead of the ticketers.

Emling is confident that Parking Services will find ways to cover its expenses.

“Parking Services has a debt of $1.3 million, but we feel we can be self-sufficient and eliminate that.”

Contact transportation reporter Dave Yochum at