October 2014

You Asked, We Listened . . . and Found the Answer: Parking Rates for Part-time Staff

A Mason staff member recently contacted the Staff Senate asking about parking rates for part-time and new employees. The question:

As a part-time wage employee, I am requesting the university consider reduced parking fees for part-time and intermittent staff. We do not occupy parking spaces as full time staff members, so it would be appropriate and fair if we had reduced parking rates!

We referred the question to Josh Cantor, Director or Parking and Transportation. Here’s his response:

Your email to the staff senate and parking was forwarded to my attention. It is a topic that has been discussed with the senior administration and budget office from time to time. Some schools do have a scale where one’s salary is a factor in parking rates. At Mason and like most universities, Parking & Transportation is a self-funded auxiliary, meaning they do not receive tuition dollars or funds from the state budget. Thus, all of our expenses, which are nearly $16 million per year when you include debt service on past construction, operations, shuttle service, CUE bus subsidy, maintenance and projects, must be paid for by revenue generate by Parking and Transportation. Each year, the aim is to price permits at the lowest level that allows us to create enough revenue to pay all the bills. In many years, the fund has had a deficit of $400,000 to $1,000,000, and we’ve drawn upon maintenance reserves to avoid raising the fees even higher. Those reserves are limited and are needed for millions of dollars in garage repairs that need to be done in the next 10 years.

When the topic of a reduced rate for part-time, wage, or lower paid classified has come up, the concern is if the price is dropped for one group, that’s lost revenue that will require another group to be charged even more. The other concern that has been voiced is that to be fair, one should really take household income into consideration when looking at one’s ability to pay (similar to how financial aid is decided for students), but we don’t want to be in the business of looking at w2’s, etc.

Our Approach is to offer an array of parking options, ranging from the West Campus permit, which is less than half the price of a general permit), the Field House permit, which is $100 less than a general permit,  to the reserved, higher priced options. We also offer free shuttles, free CUE bus rides by showing your Mason ID, and bicycling options. We know that not all options meet everyone’s needs, but the hope is that there is a solution, although one does have to make a choice and weigh his or her convenience, finance, and personal preference into making a decision.

On a similar issue, we have been asked about payroll deduction for part-time, wage, and adjunct faculty. The state sets which classifications can have payroll deductions. We have started to work with Human Resources & Payroll and Fiscal Services on a potential solution in which employees not eligible for payroll deduction could have an automated payment plan.  It would require a lot of resources, both in personnel and in financial systems, but this is something we think is worth pursuing.

Long story short, your question has been discussed but with our financial situation and the desire to hold prices down, decreasing parking rates for part-time employees would result in an increase for full-time employees and students.

Come to the Staff Senate October General meeting to hear more about parking from Josh Cantor, guest speaker.

Do you have a question for the Staff Senate?  Go to our Comments, Concerns, Ideas?  Share them! page. Then check back in future issues of this newsletter for answers.