Where does the money go?

Have you ever wondered where the money goes when you have to pay an on-campus parking ticket? At many other colleges it becomes a cash crop, but not at UM, officials say.

“Basically the parking ticket money goes to the same place where the permit money goes,” Chuck W. McConnell, director of parking and transportation services, said.

The university has one account for both permit sales and citation money.

The money raised from permit sales and parking tickets on campus is used to pay for the Hurry ‘Cane shuttle system, maintenance of garages and surface lots, and the fixed and variable costs of the parking operation. Additionally, the debt service (construction of existing and future parking projects) is funded through permit price increases that have been approved by senior administrators, faculty senate, student affairs and Student Government.

On the University of Miami campus, tickets in the amount of $20 are written if you park at a meter without paying, and $30 for permit violations, including parking in the wrong lot or failing to properly display a valid permit.

“The parking fine schedule has not increased since 2003. The fine rates are based on a survey of ten similar universities around the country for the same violations,” McConnell said.

The idea that these parking fines bring in general revenue for the university is a misconception that many students consider true.

“I never knew what they use all that money for,” Francesca Darquea, sophomore, said. “But I am sure the university is taking a portion [of money] out, because parking tickets make a lot of money.”

McConnell denies that the university is making any profit. He said that if there’s anything left after paying the annually fixed debt service, the operating expenses and the maintenance costs, and parking and transportation services, the money is simply added to the debt service funds.

“All the money we get in above operating cost, we just pay it to the debt service. This means that the university isn’t making anything,” he said.

Some students believe that parking tickets are given out unfairly, and thus must be a source of income for the university.

“I’m sure that the university is making money,” Latisha Russell, a senior, said. “Sometimes they’re passing out tickets just like that. I got tickets without knowing what they were for.”

According to McConnell, the total number of citations issued during the last academic year (2004-2005) dropped by 11 percent compared to the prior academic year (2003-2004). Figures for the current year were unavailable.

“There are no quotas for the parking enforcement officers and citations are issued simply as violations occur,” McConnell said.

Furthermore, students who choose to use the appeal system for parking tickets are awarded appeals 70 percent of the time.

While some reject the fact that the university is not making any profit by issuing parking tickets, they believe there are better ways to spend the revenue that would benefit the students and ultimately reduce parking problems and parking violations.

“I think the ticket money should go to building more parking lots,” Russell said.

Iris Hollinger can be contacted at j.hollinger@umiami.edu.