Survival of the fittest: A Murray State parking story

Photo by Jenny Rohl/TheNews

Story by Lindsey Coleman, Staff writer

Many Murray State students who drive a car on campus have realized and thus complained about the prices for parking permits and citations. Murray State personnel opened up about the parking revenue and explained where the money goes.

Shawn Touney, Murray State Director of Communication, said parking operations generate approximately $960,000 annually. This number includes all revenue sources, two of which are parking permit and ticket costs.

“The revenues earned through the Parking FOAPAL (fund, organization, account, program, activity and location) are used for administrative costs in administering the parking program to include parking lot maintenance, lighting and new parking lot development and to provide other education and general support,” Jill Hunt, senior executive coordinator for the president at Murray State, said.

Touney said parking lot maintenance includes the upkeep of lighting, resurfacing and proper marking of various lots, all of which are regular and necessary budgeted expenses.

“Within the 2016-17 budget, nearly 50 percent of all revenues collected through parking operations are scheduled to be transferred to the University’s general fund to support other university needs,” Touney said.

At Murray State, fines range from $30-$100, depending on the offense. A forged or stolen permit will result in the highest fines.

From Aug. 1, 2015 to June 1, 2016, the total dollar amount collected from parking citations was $342,467.83.

In the same time frame, 10,944 total tickets were given on campus. 1,295 of those tickets were given in the lot across from Pogue Library on North 15th Street. Coming in second place was the Curris Center lot on Chestnut Street with 1,072 tickets.

Murray State parking permits are based on zones, for which all permits cost $100, with the exception of the economy permit at $60.

According to their parking websites, Western Kentucky University’s parking permits range from $50-$200 per year, the University of Kentucky permits cost anywhere from $56-$296, and the University of Louisville charges $98-$590 per permit, all of which are based on the type of permit purchased.

A proposed multi-tiered parking system would potentially increase permit cost at Murray State, while allowing students to choose what type of pass they buy. Currently, the relationship between student and university dictates what zone they can park in. For example, on-campus sophomores are able to park closer to the dorms than freshmen.

The university sent a parking survey to all students, faculty and staff Jan. 26 concerning a new system. It proposes an increase in permit cost that could be anywhere from $200-$800 for premium and reserved spots under the new model. The survey is open until Feb. 15.

Peter Northcutt, senior from Calvert City, Kentucky, said he has received many parking tickets while pursuing an education at Murray State, most of which have been due to parking in the wrong zone to get to class on time.

He said it seems as if the university gives students two options: skip class because no spots are available in your zone or park in an incorrect zone and pay ticket fines.

“It’s frustrating because I feel like I, as a student, am being actively hunted down because of the inadequacies of the university and the parking department,” Northcutt said.

Although he agrees that Parking Services is acting within their proposed parking rules, Northcutt said those very rules are ridiculous.

“I think that if the university accepts tuition from a certain amount of students, they should be required to provide amenities and accommodations to that number of students,” which Northcutt said should include providing the necessary parking near the classes students pay tuition for.

“The motivations and priorities (of the parking department), in a perfect world should be to maintain order, but with the integration of revenue, they are now a money-making business, and I think there’s an inherent conflict there,” Northcutt said.