Where does all the money from NMSU parking tickets go?

Most of us have gotten it—that little yellow envelope waiting for us on our windshield as we return to our car from class.

That little envelope contains a parking citation ranging anywhere from $35 to a whopping $255 (if you were to illegally park in a handicapped spot).

So just how many of us get these citations? The NMSU parking department reports over 7,000 parking citations have been issued from the very beginning of 2013 to the end of 2015. And with over 18,000 students on campus at any given time, that averages out to roughly every two or three students getting a citation.

With the university’s approximate 13,500 parking spaces, typically around 10 to 12 parking enforcement officers patrol on a given shift.

“[The officers] are all undergraduate student employees. There are typically 10 to 12 employed during regular semesters,” said Stella Harvey, manager of NMSU’s parking department. She said that each student is limited to working 20 hours or less per week.

Screen Shot 2016-09-07 at 3.10.19 PM
Parking ticket at an NMSU parking lot

“Twelve student employees would equal six full-time employees in terms of working hours.” Harvey said the students are not on the same shift, as the department is flexible with their class hours. That means it is hard to determine exactly how many officers are working each given shift.

In a 160-page report, NMSU’s Parking Department documents not only the more than 7,000 citations, but their type, too. List of Parking Citations Issued 01_01_2013 to 12_31_2015

So just how much money does the parking department haul in each year? From fiscal year 2013 to 2015, over $400,000 in citation fees still have yet to be paid. Total revenue from paid tickets, on the other side, adds up to over $1 million.

“Transportation and parking revenue comes primarily form the sale of parking permits,” Harvey said. She explained that reserved parking, parking meters and citation payments are also large contributors to the department’s revenue.

And with hundreds of thousands of dollars in unpaid citations, the department constantly sends out statements to those who owe money. Harvey said anyone with unpaid citations isn’t eligible to purchase a parking permit, register for classes, or get their transcripts.

“We are evaluating utilizing a collection agency to assist with collection of these past due accounts,” Harvey said. This is necessary because even with all previous actions taken, the number of unpaid citations is still very high.

Lot maintenance and capital expenditures has doubled in the last year, to a total of $460,417.

“Lot maintenance includes crack and surface seal applications, striping, new signs, meters and other repairs to the parking surface,” Harvey said. “Capital expenditures are typically construction related, like rebuilding a parking lot entirely from the ground up.”

Harvey said the department is very aware of the condition of all of NMSU’s parking lots and it works hard to prioritize maintenance. The department regularly conducts repairs each year, and Harvey says it does this in order to get the most out of the funding that is available.

Many students complain about not being able to find a parking space, but Harvey says only about 70 percent of the university’s parking spaces are used on a given day. When asked about a parking garage possibly being in NMSU’s future, Harvey said utilization of parking spaces would need to be at least 85 percent.

“Keeping the cost of parking permits at an affordable level is important at NMSU. The average price for an annual parking permit at our peer institutions that operate parking garages is $243,” Harvey explained. The cost of construction for a parking garage is about $20 to $25,000 per parking space.

“That would make a 500 to 700-space parking garage cost between $10 million and $17.5 million to construct, and would cost about $100,000 for operations.”

Harvey added that overall, NMSU Transportation and Parking Services operates as efficiently as possible and works to keep parking permit rates at an affordable level.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *