A Mississippi State University student prepares to remove last year's parking permit from the back of their vehicle. Parking permit prices increased by nearly 10 percent this year to help cover the cost of a $9 million parking garage project the university expects to break ground on this fall. Photo by: Luisa Porter/Dispatch Staff
July 27, 2018 10:06:08 AM
Mississippi State University will break ground this fall on a $9 million parking garage, said Jeremiah Dumas, director of the university's Parking and Transit Services.
The new parking garage -- which Dumas expects will take about 18 months to complete -- should provide an additional 500 spots on campus.
"As an auxiliary of the university, we have responsibility for the maintenance of our parking lots and the construction of new parking lots," Dumas said. "In the past four years, we've been working through a very detailed analysis of what our parking needs are. ... We've come to the realization we need a new parking supply on the north side of campus."
Dumas said the new parking garage has been a topic of discussion for several years. His office received approval for the project from Mississippi's Institutions for Higher Learning in May 2017.
The garage, Dumas said, will occupy the north side of campus because that area is most suited to handle additional traffic. That side of campus is accessible by highways 12 and 182.
"On game days, the north side of campus will clear hours before the south side of campus does," he added.
Dumas said the majority of his department's funds come from parking permit sales. To offset the multi-million dollar cost of the parking garage, permit prices for both commuter and residential students increased by nearly 10 percent this year. Before the fall 2017 semester, commuter students paid $149 for a permit. This year those same students paid $163. Residential students saw an increase from $160 to $175.
MSU parking services will also look this year to improve road infrastructure on the south side of campus and maintain the parking spaces already in place.
"When we see rising maintenance needs and increased capital investment needs," Dumas said, "our revenue comes from those increased parking permits."
He said additional revenue comes from on-campus, digitized parking meters, which rake in an average of $7,500 a month. Revenue from the meters and permit sales go into a general department pool to cover construction and maintenance costs.
MSU currently has 15,000 parking spaces on campus and a student population of more than 20,000.
Despite rising permit prices, Dumas said in the past two to three years, parking services has seen a "tremendous increase" in the speed with which students purchase permits.
Parking services sold nearly 6,200 parking permits when they became available to commuter students July 18 at 8 a.m. Dumas said parking zones on the east and west ends of campus sold out within two hours.
Mississippi State University senior Michael Garlotte secured his permit shortly after 8 a.m. the day they were first available.
"We got an email July 17 saying they were going to go on sale July 18," Garlotte said. "...obviously those things are first-come, first-serve. We had to basically plan to be up really early the very next day."
Parking permits became available July 25 to students living on campus. Dumas said about 2,200 students bought residential permits Wednesday.
Garlotte said it can be hard at times for students who cover their own expenses to pay for parking.
"Whenever you're working for yourself, $163 just by itself is a lot of (students') full week paycheck," Garlotte said. "I'm paying for rent, food, gas to get to my two jobs...it's just an extra thing I have to budget for...But it does beat paying a parking meter."
Despite MSU's price increase, the school's permits cost less than those of nearby universities of comparable size.
At the University of Mississippi, permits cost $210 for commuter students and $325 for campus residents. The University of Alabama sells its parking permits for $345 for commuters and $400 for residential students.
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