Parking violations painful for students

Recent statistics show that students, faculty and staff don’t always follow the rules when it comes to parking legally.

After all, parking services issues about 16,000 parking tickets each year and about 100 per day during the fall and spring semesters, Parking Services Director Bob Brecklin said.

Photo by Andrew Smith.

Most people that receive tickets are unaware of where any of that money goes, but most, if not all, are curious where their $15 is spent after their ticket is paid.

In 2010, many different areas of parking services benefitted from the money collected from parking fines and permits.

Parking lot maintenance, which includes plowing, salting, repainting parking lines, and repairing potholes accounted for $157,513.13 of parking services’ revenue.

Equipment, such as a new printer and other essential tools, cost $1,170.21. Fringe benefits for the two full-time employees in parking services used up $48,746. Postage costs added up to $3,070.45 and costs for telecommunications equaled $1,889.69.

Bob Brecklin

Parking services made $176,117.19 from parking fines and $841,841.37 from user fees in 2010, both of which have gone down in recent years.

User fees revenue includes $98,224.68 from temporary parking permits, $28,582.90 from staff permits, $377,512.68 from resident permits, $214,865.94 from commuter permits, and $98,379.43 from parking meters.

The budget called for $935,000 to be made from user fees, leaving parking services in a $93,158.63 hole in that area.

The baseball field parking lot is still being paid off at a cost of $20,628.96 per year for 15 years. However, that money is part of a general campus reserve fund and the money is a transfer from the Residence Hall Association’s money.

According to the parking space inventory from September 2009, a total of 5,081 parking spaces were available on campus, with 1,722 of those stalls being used by residents and 2,536 for commuting students and staff. Long-term metered parking stalls account for 353 stalls and 173 handicapped stalls are available.

Brecklin said students, faculty and staff have five business days to pay their ticket. If the ticket is not paid by then, it goes up by approximately 50 percent of the original fine, so a $15 ticket will then cost $22.50.

A month after the late fine is applied, a letter is printed and mailed, which adds $5 to the fine to cover the mailing fee. Another $10 is added when parking services refers the vehicle for suspended registration to the Department of Motor Vehicles in the same month, Brecklin said.

For people who have Wisconsin license plates and addresses, the license plate for that specific vehicle will be suspended if the registration vehicle hold is used and the DMV will refuse to renew any other vehicle owned by the same listed registered owner.

“Given that most students’ vehicles are actually owned by their parents, it affects the parent more than it really affects the student,” Brecklin said.

Brecklin said parking services is getting new software that will be able to send permit holders an e-mail to remind them they received a citation. However, only about 12 percent of parking violations are handed out to permit holders.

“[This] will take away all the excuses like, ‘I didn’t know I had a ticket,’” Brecklin said.

Many citations are appealable as of this year, but Brecklin said parking services will cut back on what types of citations are appealable next year. An example of an appealable citation would be if a meter were broken.

Brecklin said meters might not work for several reasons, such as the coin slot freezing, too many coins inside, or if it’s not timing properly. If a broken meter is blamed for a ticket that is being appealed, Brecklin said they will pull the meter and replace it with a meter that works and test the broken one. If the meter is broken, the ticket will be voided.

Several threats loom largely over students’ heads who don’t pay their ticket.

“We have the ability to put a hold on academic records,” Brecklin said. “[Students] won’t be able to register, obtain transcripts, graduate or things like that.”

Last year, Brecklin said the parking advisory committee talked about the need for added revenue. The discussion involved increasing the fines for parking violations and not freezing permit prices because the people parking legally should not be penalized.

For next year, Brecklin said there will be no fee increases, but parking services will move back toward putting holds on students’ academic records.

Other than the normal $15 ticket, $25 tickets are handed out as well for parking in reserved stalls, restricted areas, or on a sidewalk, Brecklin said.

Parking services uses three vehicles to focus on academic lots during school days and check the resident lots early in the morning and late in the evening.

The increase in the fine for a parking violation, from $10 last year to $15 this year, was an incentive to pay the ticket on time, Brecklin said.

“Any parking citation we issue actually becomes a receivable from the state of Wisconsin,” Brecklin said. “So there [are] certain requirements we have to follow in trying to collect that.”

Brecklin said avoiding parking citations involves common sense.

“Just be willing to walk a block and a half,” Brecklin said. “You’re not going to be able to park right outside the door of the building you’re going to if you get here at 10 a.m.”

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