Changes to Parking Fines On Campus Could Be Coming

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University of Michigan-Flint

Changes to how the distribution of money collected from parking fees on campus could soon be changing.

Ryan Lanxton, Writer

UM-Flint’s Department of Public Safety and the Downtown Development Authority of Flint is looking into negotiating a new parking contract. The changes being explored would bring a new structure to the payment system for fines and revenue shared between the two.

Currently, DPS issues tickets to anyone who has committed a parking infraction on the UM-Flint campus, usually in the amount of $20. That fine is then paid either online or in-person at the 67th District Court building on Saginaw Street. 

All fines collected then go to the DDA to be used on various projects around downtown, such as cleaning public spaces. DPS and UM-Flint receive none of this revenue.

However, options being explored could change this relationship between DPS and the DDA.

“We [DPS] have a positive, working relationship with the DDA and they provide any support we have. They support our stakeholders, as I would suggest, and submit that we support their efforts as well. And so it’s a win-win,” said Raymond Hall, chief of DPS at UM-Flint.

One option proposed would have the revenue generated from these fines split 80% for the DDA to use and the remaining 20% go back to DPS. Hall said the revenue generated would be controlled by the Parking Committee, of which he is the chair. This money would be used to update signage across campus and go towards other future projects.

If enough revenue is generated, one project Hall would like to see is smart parking and gate features. These would allow those with UM-Flint parking permits to see how full a lot is before entering and trying to find a parking spot. Additionally, it would restrict the amount of non-UM-Flint students and staff from using up campus-designated parking lots.

“The dollars would be shifted into supporting parking efforts here to make it more convenient … to implement smart parking and potentially even looking at dollars spent on providing additional electric car outlets,” said Hall.

The restructured partnership would also see the DDA providing new equipment for DPS to use. Updated software and new ticket writing machines for DPS officers will make the process much more efficient, all free of charge for UM-Flint. As Hall said, costs will not be passed off to students.

“Part of the agreement would be that the DDA would pick up the cost of the software, the support, the adjudication of the citation and the hardware for actual ticket writing and make us more efficient at no cost to our students here,” said Hall.

DPS originally approached the DDA with the proposal to explore a new agreement. Hall wanted to make sure his department was being as fiscally responsible as possible while also bringing in a new revenue stream for everyone on campus to take advantage of.

Hall insists the increase in efficiency and the ticket writing process as a whole is not meant to become a revenue effort that needlessly writes tickets to earn money. His philosophy is that enforcing parking standards is meant to act as an enforcement action, not a punitive one. 

“Our focus has been, and continues to be, on compliance through education, through communication and through enforcement action when ever absolutely necessary,” said Hall.

This  new partnership could potentially see a raise in fees for parking tickets, but Hall would like them to stay as they are now, so as not to become a burden on violators. He believes there is a happy medium between keeping fines low while also making sure they compel compliance.

While those who have received a ticket will still have to go to the 67th District Court if they wish to contest the ticket, others who are looking to pay in-person can visit the DDA office at 502 Church Street. Their office often has no waits and ample free parking, both of which the court building does not.

Although the talks between DPS and the DDA are only exploring a possible negotiation, Hall would still like to hear feedback from those on campus to see if it is worth pursuing. Anyone who is interested in doing so can email Hall at [email protected].

Additionally, comments can be directed to Donald Weismiller, a senator on Student Government who is also on the Parking Committee at [email protected].