INSIDE IOWA STATE
February 23, 2001
Parking decisions loom as reserve fund builds
by Anne Krapfl
Sixteen months from now, the Iowa State parking
division should have $1 million in seed money for some significant concrete
and asphalt projects. The university's Transportation Advisory Council (TAC)
is recommending a 4 percent inflationary adjustment for campus parking
permits for the year that begins July 1. That size increase still should
allow the parking division to set aside, for the fifth and last year, about
$200,000 in a reserve fund.
What that $1 million will help pay for is up to the Iowa State community,
according to Doug Houghton, manager of the parking division in the
department of public safety. Those who park cars will make choices by the
permit fees they're willing to pay. The options he sees are new lots to
support new buildings, replacing or repairing existing lots more frequently
than now can be done, and parking ramps. Long-term planning for how to use
that money will begin next year.
While Iowa State students and employees like the convenience of a ramp, "our
people haven't indicated a willingness yet to pay higher fees," Houghton
said, "and we don't have the fee structure now to support ramps."
Ramps are expensive to build, requiring a lot of cash up front, or hefty
user fees once they're in use. While a parking lot stall costs about $2,000
to build, a single stall in a ramp probably runs in the $10,000-12,000
range. The ramp connected to the Memorial Union has 640 stalls; a relatively
small ramp by today's standards, Houghton said. A large ramp holds several
Houghton said heavy use during just the 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. "school day"
wouldn't provide enough revenue to pay for a ramp.
"Large ramps have to be near an all-hours facility [such as a hospital or
casino, in which people are coming and going most of the time]. Otherwise,
they need to be subsidized," he said.
However, a doable alternative for Iowa State would be a single-level deck
added to an existing lot. Houghton said the current fee structure could
support a deck.
"It gets us a hundred or so additional stalls, so it doesn't solve any
long-term problems," he said.
But he estimated that $1 million to $1.5 million in a savings fund would be
enough to build a deck somewhere on campus.
"I believe we will build something in the next few years," Houghton said.
"What and where will depend on the Iowa State community and on engineering
Where's the need?
In a quick review of campus, Houghton said the west side of campus is 30
to 40 stalls short of what is needed and completing Hoover Hall will
exacerbate that. The east side of campus doesn't have a problem now, but the
planned business building on the Osborn Cottage site is expected to create a
problem within several years. The north side of campus also has no shortage
of stalls now, but new building plans that begin this summer will create a
shortage within five to eight years, he said.
And while three smaller ramps on three sides of campus might seem like a
solution, the reality is that three small ramps are more expensive than one
large one. Economies of scale apply to parking ramps, Houghton said.
Two unknown but potentially helpful variables in Iowa State's parking
equation are federal dollars that might help construct a ramp and a
Government of the Student Body proposal to let students, faculty and staff
ride CyRide buses -- all routes in town -- for free. A $9 increase in
student fees each semester, with a $4.50/student payment from the
university, could make this possible. The GSB proposal will be on the
student ballot March 6-7.
"If it happens, that could be a wonderful plan," Houghton said. "It would
have a very positive impact on parking at Iowa State by reducing student
demand for parking spots."
Student needs actually are the biggest parking problem, according to
Houghton. He said residence officials are trying to weave parking solutions
into their master plan for updating the residence system.
This winter TAC members proposed and eventually discarded a plan that
would have brought in more for the parking reserve fund.
FY2001 is the first year Iowa State has taken advantage of a federal tax law
that allows parking fees to be deducted pre-tax from payroll checks. Most
employees aren't aware of this change, but for all, it has meant a
noticeable tax savings.
For example, employees in the 15 percent tax bracket saved $16.33 on a $57
general permit and $81.65 on a $285 reserved permit. Employees in the 28
percent tax bracket saved $23.74 and $118.70 in taxes, respectively, on the
The proposal was to raise permit fees by approximately these tax savings
amounts, bringing out-of-pocket costs closer to last year's fees.
At a February meeting, TAC members voiced concern about collecting more
money simply for the sake of collecting money.
"Until we have a plan in mind, it's difficult to support that concept," said
John Lamont, electrical and computer engineering. "It's hard to get people
to 'up the ante' until there's something concrete to support."
TAC's 4 percent recommendation goes to vice president for business and
finance Warren Madden and, if he concurs, to the Board of Regents, State of
Iowa, next month for its approval.
Ames, Iowa 50011, (515) 294-4111
Published by: University Relations,
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