Declining enrollment strains Parking Services budget

The K-State parking garage is located directly across from the Berney Family Welcome Center and is connected to the Student Union. (Brooke Barrett | Collegian Media Group)

In a trend that has been highlighted across campus, declining enrollment has Parking Services struggling to maintain lots.

Jeff Barnes, director of Kansas State Parking Services, said its revenue comes from three sources: parking permits, citations and metered stalls. The largest of the three is parking permits, the numbers of which have dropped alongside enrollment decline.

“Overall we run about a $4 million budget.” Barnes said. “The permits account for about 3 million of that, and the meters account for about 500,000.”

The remaining $500,000 comes from parking citations or tickets. Parking Services does not receive any money from state taxes, student fees or tuition fees.

For Parking Services, one of its highest expenses is the bond on the parking garage, which costs about $1 million annually, Barnes said. The bond on the garage started in 2009 and is expected to be completed in 2038; four years ago, it was refinanced for a lower interest rate.

Another large expense is salaries and benefits for employees, which require $1.2 million a year.

“We have about 20 full-time employees, plus I think we hire 40 or so students part time.” Barnes said.

The last two expenses are ATA bus fees at $250,000 and software programming costing $125,000 each year, Barnes said.

Remaining revenue is used to maintain and improve parking lot infrastructure. Every year, Parking Services staff plan on having around $800,000 for maintenance. This year, the maintenance budget exceeds that $800,000 estimate.

“Whatever is leftover is what I’m able to put into doing construction and maintenance across campus,” Barnes said.

Over the last couple of years, the department has invested around a million dollars each year into lot maintenance. Last year, the department resurfaced the parking lot by the Engineering Complex (Lot A-28) and improved the lighting in lots near the College of Veterinary Medicine buildings (Lots B5 and B6).

During the 2015 Chilled Water Project, Parking Services decided to not maintain any lots to avoid congesting campus streets any more than necessary. The money that was not spent then has been used in recent years to cover for the loss of permit sales.

They also plan on resurfacing Lot B2 across from Haymaker and Moore residence halls this summer.

With a smaller number of permits issued, Parking Services is not able to invest the same amount of money as previous years into infrastructure. Barnes said the most likely the solution would be to increase parking permit prices.

“Without a price increase, the only option is less maintenance,” Barnes said.