WSU Parking Fees and Fines May Rise; Cost Could be Offset by Pre-tax Plan

PULLMAN, Wash. — Parking permit fees and fines at Washington State University may be going up, but for many those increases could be totally offset by a plan to deduct parking fees directly from WSU employees’ paychecks before they are taxed.

A proposal from Parking and Transportation Services now under review by the Parking System Review Task Force recommends parking fees and fines should rise to help cover the increasing cost of new parking facilities, and improvements and repairs to existing garages and parking lots.

Those costs include an annual bond payment of $814,000 for the newly constructed Center for Undergraduate Education garage and parking lot. Costs also include badly needed repairs to three of the university’s oldest garages and deferred maintenance to other surface lots at a price of $800,000 and $600,000, respectively.

“Like most universities, the parking system at WSU is self-supported,” explained Glenn Ford, associate vice president for Business and Finance. “The system needs to be in a financial position to meet the needs of its users, maintain its facilities and to meet its financial obligations.”

The greatest increases would come in the parking zones with the highest demand – orange and green. The price of a yearly orange parking permit, which allows users to park in covered garages, would rise from the current rate of $221 to $340 in the fall of 2002.

Green permits, which are for lots closest to the center of campus, would increase from $187 to $285. Faculty and staff are the primary users of these two zones.

Yellow permits would increase from $137 to $175. Red and gray would increase from $103 and $108, respectively, to $135. Blue would rise from $52 to $65. Moped and motorcycle permits would both cost $45. An increase in daily permits is also being proposed.

However, increases in hourly parking meter and garage rates are not planned for next year because of significant increases that occurred in the fall of 1999.

“These rates were a major concern expressed by students during last year’s Peer Review meetings,” said John Shaheen, director of Parking, Transportation and Visitor Center.

Even with the increases, Shaheen described the annual fees as moderate to low compared with regional and peer institutions. This is supported by a Peer Review Team report published last year. For instance, a standard, single-occupancy parking permit at the University of Washington will cost $785 next year. Western Washington University charges $640 annually for its most preferred parking permits.

WSU employees can mitigate some of the price increases by opting to pay for their permit with pre-tax dollars through payroll deduction, which would save federal tax withholding, social security and Medicare expenses. For example, a green permit holder with a federal tax rate of 27 percent who used the pre-tax deduction plan might save as much as $99 in taxes, reducing the ultimate permit cost from $285 to $186, just $1 less than the current rate.

Other recommendations include creating a brown parking zone for students who live in central campus residence halls such as McCroskey, Stimson, Honors College, Stevens, Waller, Wilmer, Davis, Duncan-Dunn and Community.

Other issues being considered by the task force include giving faculty and staff priority for receiving green permits. Orange permits would be for faculty and staff use only. There are 31 students with orange permits and 353 with green.

Parking violations will be a more costly mistake with most fines increasing by $5 to $25 depending on the infraction. The exception is the fine for unauthorized parking in a disability space, which will rise from $50 to $250, which coincides with the state standard. The last increase in parking fines was 1995.

The 15-member task force, which has worked on the proposal since September, represents a diverse group of interests including members from Faculty Senate, Associated Students of WSU, Graduate and Professional Student Association, bargaining units, Administrative Professional Council and Residence Hall Association.

The various groups represented by task force members will review the proposal before it is submitted to the WSU Board of Regents for consideration this spring. If approved, it would take effect fall semester 2002.

“We are very impressed with the commitment displayed by the task force members over the last semester,” Ford said. “Their constituents are well-represented.”

For more information, visit the Web site at or contact Shaheen at (509) 335-4911.