SGA exploring possible future student fees for parking structure

A student drives down the spiral after parking in Parking Structure 1. Jake Pope/HERALD

Lashana Harney

The Student Government Association plans to pursue resolutions for fees in upcoming semesters that could potentially lead to more parking and more play.

SGA reached out to students on potentially tacking on a roughly $30 fee to fund an estimated $10 million parking structure.

SGA passed a resolution last semester that supported the establishment of a $4 a year fee for the Student Legal Services Clinic. This resolution sparked an onset of ideas for more fees.

Nicki Taylor, SGA president, said in conversation with President Gary Ransdell that the ideas grew out of students’ interests. 

Ransdell said approving just a $4 fee would be difficult.

“A process to get a fee approved is rather complex and I indicated that I would be reluctant to go to the Board of Regents or the Council of Postsecondary Education for just a $4 fee,” Ransdell said. “…So, I asked Nicki, what else is there, that students would be interested in.”

Ransdell said he knew parking and the Preston Center were objects of interest to students.

“Parking is one thing that students clearly have the most interest in,” he said.  “That’s how the parking structure came into the mix and the other thing that I hear from students most often is Preston Center use.”

Taylor said it’s SGA’s job to come to a consensus on what fees students would be most willing to pay.

 “He wanted Student Government to come to a consensus on installing both of them, installing neither of them or one or not the other,” Taylor said. 

Ransdell said the proposed cost of the fees are an estimate and if SGA approves the fees, a full financial analysis would be done. 

Ransdell said the SGA wanted to know specific data regarding the parking structure.

 “I do know that the parking structure, a $10 million parking structure, would be about $28 up to $30, but no more than that and she is also looking at the $2 a semester student legal services fee, so I was trying to keep all of that at $30 or less,” he said.

He said the Preston expansion fee would be close in cost to the parking structure fee.

“I don’t think it would be as much as $50, but again, we have not done the financial analysis on that one,” Ransdell said.

Ransdell said if the fees are approved, it would be a 20 year buy. 

Taylor said the proposed $10 million parking structure would be built on Creason Lot and would add an additional 500 parking spaces. 

Taylor said the proposed Preston expansion would add an indoor turf field. The expansion would be behind Preston and could potentially take parking spaces away from the Hugh Poland Lot.

Taylor said SGA plans to tackle the proposed fees separately.

 “I want them to be considered separately because a student may support one or the other for completely different reasons,” Taylor said. “It’s possible that we implement one fee and not the other.”’

Taylor said SGA senator Zach Jones is in the works of writing a resolution on the proposed parking structure fee. Jones plans to present the varying options to the Campus Improvement Committee. Once the committee comes to a consensus on the option they would like to pursue, a resolution will be up for first read in the upcoming weeks.

Taylor said in order to build a parking structure, WKU would need $700,000 a year from student fees.

“To make that come entirely from student permits, you would have to double the price of every permit, which is a lot,” Taylor said. “To make it all from a student fee, that is $30 for each semester, regardless if they drive or not or if they’re on main campus or not. So, both options have their pros and cons.”

However, Taylor said SGA is pursuing a compromise.

“We are also considering a middle ground option to where there might be a smaller fee, potentially $15 to get us $350,000 in revenue from the fee and increase permit prices by a more modest number that would get the other $350,000,” said Taylor. 

If SGA approves the fees, they would then need to be approved by the Board of Regents, and then the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education. If the fees make it through the entire process of approval, Taylor said the fees would be implemented next semester.   

Ransdell said the process is quite long. 

“It’s a process that would probably take several months to do,” Ransdell said. “…There are no guarantees.” 

Taylor said the university is looking to purchase or lease land around campus for temporary parking lots.

Taylor said from the students she has talked to, not many are happy about the idea of the Preston expansion.

“Most students, I can understand this definitely, see that Preston has been renovated so recently,” Taylor said. “They don’t see the need for another expansion.”

The opposite occurred for the parking structure. 

“Students definitely seem much more receptive,” Taylor said. “However, a lot of students who don’t drive are a little bit weary because they would be paying a student fee for something they are never going to use. That’s why SGA is exploring the avenue of at least not entirely funding the parking structure from that student fee.”

Ransdell said the administrative council is not pushing the fees, but it’s something SGA is looking into. 

He said after the conversation with Taylor, there are options on the table and it’s up to SGA to decide to pursue them.

 “She was looking for options, so I gave her some options that I thought the students would be interested in,” Ransdell said. “So, now the ball is in SGA’s court.”