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PHCC students may pay more to park
Parking rate to increase, pending state approval
Tuesday, March 18, 2014
By MICKEY POWELL - Bulletin Staff Writer
Patrick Henry Community College (PHCC) students soon could be paying more than double what they do now to park their cars on campus.
A 50-cent hike in the student parking fee, from 39 cents to 89 cents per semester hour, was unanimously approved by the PHCC Board on Monday.
The increase will generate additional funds needed for parking lot maintenance and repairs, officials said.
The State Board for Community Colleges must give its final approval to the increase. Kris Landrum, PHCC’s public relations and marketing manager, said she thinks the hike will be imposed this summer if that approval is given.
Fifty cents per semester hour is the highest increase that the state board will allow, according to a PHCC Board report.
Under the increase, a student taking 12 hours of course work in a semester — the minimum required to be classified as a full-time student — would see his total fee jump by $6, from $4.68 to $10.68.
The more hours that a student takes, the more the fee would be.
The college’s parking fee has not increased in at least seven years, although parking lot maintenance costs have steadily risen, the board report shows.
It also shows that the average parking fee among Virginia’s 23 community colleges is $1.80 per credit hour. Three of the schools do not have parking fees but among the 20 that do, PHCC’s current 39-cent fee is the lowest. The highest is $7, charged by J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College in the Richmond area.
If PHCC’s planned 89-cent fee takes effect, it would be the seventh lowest among the colleges, including the ones with no parking fee. It would be 49 percent of the system-wide average. The current fee is 22 percent of that average, according to the board report.
The higher fee is “still a great deal for our students,” said Jack Hanbury, PHCC’s vice president of financial and administrative services.
The PHCC Board also unanimously approved spending $91,000, based on an estimate, on parking lot repairs.
Although the repairs will be subject to contractors’ bids, college officials expect the bids will not be much different from the estimate, a board report states.
Hanbury said the college’s parking lots have many spots where pavement is rough or crumbling.
The college’s parking fund, which can be used only to pay construction and maintenance costs for the lots, now has a balance of $255,902.26, a report shows. The $91,000 estimated cost of the repairs would reduce the fund by about 36 percent.
The college frequently has to make repairs to the lots, Landrum said. The parking fee increase would ensure “we’ve got money in the future” to do whatever is needed to keep the lots in good condition, she said.
College officials planned to propose to the PHCC Board that a new student fee for the use of college facilities be implemented. However, that proposal was taken off the agenda for Monday’s meeting.
“We don’t want (to impose) two increases in student fees” at one time, Hanbury said after the meeting.
He added that he does not expect the facilities fee will be brought to the board in the future.
A board report reveals that a facilities fee of 50 cents per semester hour was to have been proposed. The money would have been put toward signs, landscaping and other exterior maintenance and improvements on the main campus as well as at PHCC’s motorsports facility, the report shows.
State funding for community colleges cannot be used for such expenses, according to the report.
Eight community colleges statewide charge facilities fees. PHCC’s proposal would have matched the 50 cents charged by Danville Community College. That amount is the lowest facility fee charged among the colleges.
A document shows that PHCC’s “non-educational and general” student fees total $2.33 per semester hour. That includes the 39-cent parking fee and an activity fee of $1.94.
Tidewater Community College, based in Norfolk, charges the highest student fees at a total of $26.85 per semester hour. That includes a $5.30 parking fee, a $19 facilities fee and a $2.55 activity fee, the document shows.
PHCC’s total fees represent about 40 percent of the statewide average among community colleges of $5.89, according to the document.
In addition to those fees, community colleges also charge a state-imposed “technology fee” of $7.50 per semester hour to help finance improvements to the college’s information technology systems.
PHCC also charges a fee of $15.50 per semester hour to its out-of-state students to help offset debt service on capital construction bonds.