At the Nov. 9 meeting of the Urbana-Champaign Senate, senators approved resolutions that paved the way for the elimination of salary-based parking rates, for amending the Senate Constitution to include academic professionals in the senate electorate, and for students to participate in a possible strike by the Graduate Employees’ Organization without fear of reprisal.
By a vote of 38-26, the senate approved a resolution from the Committee on Campus Operations, presented by chair Thomas Overbye, to adopt all of the recommendations regarding transportation and parking policies - which included eliminating the current salary-based rates - outlined in a report by the Parking System Review Committee.
The campus changed from a flat rate to salary-based parking rates on July 1, 2008, after the Illinois Supreme Court ruled that parking rates were a mandatory subject of collective bargaining. The Parking System Review Committee was appointed by then-Chancellor Richard Herman to recommend strategies for addressing the revenue shortfall that was expected to result from the salary-based system and recommend comprehensive parking policies.
Rates are calculated at 0.7 percent of each permit holder's annual base salary, with a maximum-rate cap of $40 per month, resulting in an average annual permit rate of $242.
Under the system, Campus Parking is incurring an annual operating deficit of about $700,000, and the committee stated that returning to a flat-rate system was "the only way to solve the long-term revenue shortfall."
The committee also recommended numerous short-term and long-term strategies - such as premium permit options and establishing a north campus shuttle lot - that would partially correct the revenue shortfall over time, and promote green transportation and enhance pedestrian safety.
However, the committee suggested that five critical changes be implemented immediately to offset more than $640,000 of the shortfall in FY10 and $606,000 in FY11:
- Increase the annual permit rate cap by $5 per month in FY10, with another increase possible in FY11.
- Engage a third-party collection agency to collect outstanding citations from visitors and non-current students.
- Implement a booting system as an alternative to tow-away zones.
- Raise the rental rates from $2 to $10 per space - with a continual annual increase of $1 per year - for the Division of Intercollegiate Athletics.
- Transfer ownership and maintenance of Housing Division lots, which comprise 662 student permits and 129 faculty/staff permits, to Campus Parking.
If a booting system were implemented, motorists could be required to pay their outstanding citations - plus an additional fee for the boot - before having a boot removed, which would help Campus Parking collect a backlog of $718,000 in unpaid citations from the period FY05 to FY08, the report said.
The committee estimated that a collection agency, which typically keeps 30 percent of what it collects, could generate about $201,000 in net revenue for Campus Parking in FY10 and $151,000 in FY11.
The UI was the only Big Ten university with a salary-based system, the committee reported. Most schools have variable rate systems priced according to proximity or parking facility type - surface lot, ramp or garage.
By a vote of 68-1, the senate approved a resolution from the University Statutes and Senate Procedures Committee to amend the Senate Constitution to support the inclusion of other academic staff in the senate electorate. Under the proposal, eight academic staff members with the rank or title of "lecturer" or "instructor" would be elected by other academic staff members to a newly created electorate. However, like emeritus faculty members, they would not be counted toward the allocation of senators for their voting units, and the total number of senators would remain at 200.
Robert Easter, interim provost, who presided at the meeting commented after the vote carried: "This is a good thing for this body to do."
The senate also voted in support of an amended resolution from the Illinois Student Senate that called upon the Graduate Employees' Organization - the bargaining unit that represents more than 2,600 teaching and graduate assistants on campus - and university administrators to resolve their contract negotiations.
The amended resolution urged campus departments "to withhold retaliation against students choosing to peacefully participate in a potential work action," such as a strike.
Other proposals that the senate addressed as well as the report on parking policies are available on the senate's Web site.