University Proposes Parking Plan, Transit

On Monday, Chief Financial Officer Douglas Vinzant proposed a new plan to the Student Government Association for parking that would completely overhaul the current decal system for both the Hattiesburg and Gulf Park campuses.

Vinzant said many installations should be made, such as installing blue emergency poles, traffic signage or handicapped accessible sidewalks. However, there is currently not enough money in the decal system to pay for all the improvements needed.

We have too few people that were trying to use the revenue for what they pay with parking decals to pay for a whole lot of things that everyone can benefit from, “ he said.

According to Vinzant’s figures, there were 14,739 students enrolled for the 2014-2015 academic year but only 8,667 parking decals sold. This discrepancy in numbers creates a lack of funding for each year and, if allowed to continue, would result in parking decals costing $153 in fiscal year 2016. 

This still wouldn’t be enough,” Vinzant said. “To make up the discrepancy, each decal would need to be $200.”

His proposal, University Access and Transit Service, would create a transit system for the university with the ability to use the student ID as a bus pass. Along with the added public transit, the goal would be to pave all gravel lots on campus, such as the Hillcrest and Montague lots.

In this system, all students in both Hattiesburg and Gulf Park campuses would share an overall fee for parking and capital improvements, generated to SOAR accounts. This would pay for the new transit system plus all improvements made to parking lots and sidewalks.

This fee would not be in addition to the current decal, but completely replace the decal fee.  The fee would also be lower than the current decal rate, which currently stands at $144 for the Hattiesburg campus. 

With the new system in place, this fee would be lowered to $120 and provide over $4.7 million in additional revenue.

This is an idea being processed and reviewed not only by SGA, but by the Faculty Senate, President Rodney Bennett and the Executive Cabinet. There is no current confirmation whether this program will be used in 2015-2016 year.

Jeffrey George, SGA president, voiced his support for the idea.

The purpose that it’s meant for is very beneficial,” George said. “What we want to do is make sure we hear from students and see what their thoughts are, because this will affect all students.”

This idea will continue to be reviewed and evaluated.

It’s definitely something we want to see happen,” Vinzant said. “If were people were overwhelmingly opposed to it, we’d take a step back and see if things weren’t making sense. However, people are going to benefit from this (change).