Parking price grows

Lack of revenue caused the rise

Los Medanos College students may have noticed parking fees have gone up this spring from $40 to $48.

The increase is due to the fact that the money collected from these fees goes toward parking operations, and that revenue fell short during the 2013-2014 school year.

This shortfall hit LMC hard and the gap had to be covered by the Contra Costa Community College District’s capital projects fund, which they have used in the past to provide funding for major parking lot repairs.

LMC Interim Business Director Arzu Smith said the District’s goal is for parking revenue at each of the colleges needs to be sufficient enough to maintain parking operations.

“We went to student leadership and made presentations explaining the situation and that there was going to be a proposal that the fees need to be increased so that they could be at a break even point,” said Smith, regarding the revenue’s failure to cover LMC’s parking expenses in 2014.

That increase was put into effect this year. The parking permits during the fall 2015 semester remained at $40 but were raised to $48 this spring to make up for what was lost.

According to District Associate Vice Chancellor Jonah Nicholas, Education Code 76360 dictates how funds are collected and how they must be used.

The code states: “All parking fees collected shall be deposited in the designated fund of the district in accordance with the California Community Colleges Budget and Accounting Manual and shall be expended only for parking services or for purposes of reducing the costs to students and employees of the college of using public transportation to and from the college.”

Nicholas said in the last fiscal year — July 1, 2014 through June 30, 2015 — the LMC parking revenue totaled approximately $455,000. He explained the semester and daily permits at the school made up more than $400,000 of that revenue, fines made up the remainder of it at almost $50,000 and the parking meters generated less than $2,000. This does not include the refunds given to students who withdraw from classes.

Smith said the finance department at the district office tracks the expenditures and revenues separately for parking throughout the district.

“The goal is not to make money off of this. The goal is to really just get enough money so that we could maintain the parking operations,” said Smith, “Therefore the student only really pays for what the real costs are.”

The money goes to the district and is put into a parking revenue account for all the colleges. Then the money is used for expenses related to parking operations, such as parking aides, police and parking officers and maintenance-related issues including repair of broken meters.

LMC Senior Traffic Officer Michael Hotton added that the revenue is also used for staff permits and the paper that is used for the parking permit machines.

“They’re what we call ‘restricted funds,’ so we can’t use those funds for just anything,” said Hotton, “They have to be parking and equipment related for the functionality of our schools.”

Hotton said parking revenue citations also go into the operation funds. Any Police Services district wide issues tickets at a cost of $40 for a general citation but due to the shortfall from the 2013-2014 school year, the college increased the cost to $48.

Campus police use their portion of the parking funds to pay an outside company to manage the citation system for them to collect that money. They also have to pay county fees, court fees and DMV fees.