Parking fees increase districtwide

Fees implemented to accrue $250,000, balance discrepancy in Parking Fund

By Lorenzo Morotti, Associate Editor

Student parking fees were increased at campuses districtwide before the fall semester to generate needed revenue after finding discrepancies in the district Parking Fund.

The decision made by the Contra Costa Community College District marks the second time parking permit fees have been increased within the past 12 years. 

According to the May 27 Governing Board minutes, the Board Trustees unanimously voted to raise the price of parking permits for cars from $40 to $48, motorcycles and mopeds from $25 to $30 and from $20 to $25 for students receiving financial assistance through the California Board of Governors (BOG) fee waiver.

The price of a daily parking pass however will remain at $3.

Before the board could make its decision, a five-month-long process of discussions took place to inform and receive feedback from faculty and student leaders across the district’s three campuses.

Chief Financial Officer Jonah Nicholas said he attended four Student Trustee Advisory Council (STAC) meetings on Jan. 22, Feb. 19, March 19 and April 16 where he briefed students about the increase in price and the cause before bringing his final report to the board.

“The last full fiscal year (July 1, 2013 through June 30, 2014) saw parking revenues of $1.5 million districtwide compared to parking expenses of $1.75 million, creating a $250,000 shortfall,” he said. “This trend is continuing into the current fiscal year (July 1, 2014 through June 30, 2015) and is unsustainable.”

Nicholas said when he gave his suggestion to increase parking fees at the district board meeting in May, some of its members were hesitant to increase student expenses.

“The board was concerned if this (parking fee increase) is something that needed to be done and not just to raise the fee to be used outside of covering the cost of the (shortfall),” he said. “They wanted to be assured that this is a last resort.”

He said the district could use funds from unrestricted General Fund, but unfortunately there is a shortage of monies in that fund as well.

A CCC student, psychology major Nicolas Hui, said he was surprised to see an increase to parking fees when he re-applied for his BOG fee waiver, but paid it anyway.

“Its not a huge increase,” Hui said. “(The district) could charge more if (it) wanted because parking near classes is a necessity for some students. But I’m more curious as to what the money from these (parking) fees will be used for.”

Nicholas said the California educational code states that revenue generated from parking permits and citations can only be funneled into the districts’ Parking Fund.

“(The district) can’t take the money generated from fees and use them for non-parking related expenses,” he said.

Police Services Lt. Jose Oliveira said all the revenue collected through the sale of parking permits and fees go directly into the Parking Fund to pay for parking lot maintenance and for 25 percent of police officers’ salary, and 100 percent of student police aides’ stipends for patrolling the campuses.

Dean of Student Services Vicki Ferguson said as of press time Monday that CCC has a student headcount of 6,644 and said this increase will benefit students in the long term by providing enough funds to pay police officers and aides.