The cost of a parking pass for all EKU students will eventually increase to $180 over the next four years, with administration raising prices by $40 each year.
“The exact numbers are a little hazy right now,” said Matthew Howell, a faculty senate member on the parking committee.
University officials are trying to create a self-funded parking and transportation office. Right now, parking is funded directly from the general fund of the university.
This would allow the parking and transportation office to hire more parking staff, have more control over maintenance of parking lots and issue permits sooner.
“This means we can start planning when are we going to build the new parking lots, when are the new transportation systems going to come online,” Howell said.
Eastern didn’t start charging for parking until 2014. The projected cost of the parking passes would match Morehead’s costs, but be less than those at Western, Northern and UK.
The parking and transportation office is currently only staffed by five people, which is much fewer than other universities in Kentucky. The office has just recently been approved to hire one more person.
The parking office’s first priority after becoming self funded is to keep up with maintenance on the already-existing parking lots and then work toward bigger goals in the future, such as creating a smart parking app that would tell you on your phone where there are parking spaces on campus. Other universities such as UK already use this technology.
“This would be controlled by gates, and your parking pass would have a little barcode on it,” Howell said. “The barcode on the parking pass would keep track of how many people are in the parking lot, how many are out. These are things that would be communicated with the app so you would know where on campus there is parking.”
The information from the parking app would also be displayed at the parking garages. The app would be created from the parking and transportation service’s fund rather than the general fund.
Faculty permits now expire in December rather than August to help control the mass number of people in the parking office at the beginning of the year.
Faculty and staff parking passes would also be subjected to increase if the proposal is implemented.
Faculty and staff members have some negative thoughts and opinions of this increase.
“First of all, we haven’t had a raise for years,” said Todd Harch, an EKU history professor. “And since we live in an inflation economy, that means effectively we are making less money every year. We had a massive increase in our healthcare costs; meanwhile we are building a baseball stadium, a softball stadium, making a massive addition to the football stadium. So I think this really was the straw that broke the camel’s back.”
As Harch pointed out, there isn’t any option other than to pay for a parking pass. There isn’t any other place to park.
“I think it would be similar to charging us money for using our office or renting us our chairs,” Harch said.
The administration’s goal is to let the campus community know of any changes before the end of the semester and get input from students, faculty and staff before the beginning of summer.