According to Rick Medley, manager of Salt Lake Community College’s Parking Services, there has been a precipitous decline in parking permits purchased this year.
In the 2019-20 school year, students purchased 5,925 fall permits and 5,871 annual permits. For the 2020-21 year, those numbers have dropped to 2,371 fall permits and 2,760 annual permits — resulting in decreases of 60 and 53 percent, respectively.
As reported in a January Globe story, the department’s revenue funds college services such as snow removal, sealing cracks, painting, signage and lighting as well as parking service employee wages and expenses. The revenue also helps pay for campus safety, which includes campus safety officers, armed police and emergency management.
“Our department funds a lot of other areas for the campus under the public safety umbrella,” said Medley. “Without having parking permits or citation revenue has really put a strain on this department.”
Medley says the department’s employees have also taken a hit.
“We furloughed some folks,” he said. “We didn’t lay anyone off, but people did find work elsewhere and we didn’t replace those positions. We just try to minimize payroll and salary to keep afloat.”
The 63rd Utah State Legislature convened from January to March. During this time, members of the Utah System of Higher Education, including SLCC, submit budget requests to “be more capable of fulfilling its institutional goals and maintaining affordability for its students.”
Planning for a pandemic was not on the radar, according to Darren Marshall, assistant vice president of Budget Services and Financial Planning at SLCC.
“March is the month where we do the tuition and fees, sending in for approval,” said Marshall. “We do that for the upcoming year; those decisions need to be made because they go into effect in May. While a lot of little timelines were happening at the same time, we were shutting down the college.”
The money from the state accounts for 65 percent of SLCC’s budget, with the other 35 percent coming from tuition. Marshall reports that the college is down about 1,000 full time students.
“It’s going to be roughly $3 million,” said Marshall.
Marshall says that SLCC has had to reduce its budget over $2.7 million, with cuts coming from hourly and adjunct faculty compensation pools, the equipment budget, fuel and power, college benefits and a reduction in institutional funds.
When it comes to Parking Services, with no one parking in the lots, there isn’t any need for those employees.
Marshall says that SLCC has done its best to keep employees affected by COVID-19 afloat during hard times. He estimates that the school has spent around $2-3 million with funds from The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to keep people employed.
Medley says SLCC’s workshare program has been helpful during the pandemic.
“The college has really done a good job with the work sharing program,” he said. “That’s a resource that the college needs to continue.”
Moving forward, Parking Services does not plan to make any drastic changes for 2020-21.
“We’re not raising any type of fees or citations. That’s not something we’re comfortable doing to make up for the offset,” said Medley. “We’re essentially trying to minimize the staff but still supply the same level of service students, faculty and staff have grown accustomed to.”
Editor’s note: An earlier version of this article listed reverse percentages for SLCC’s budget sources.