Where your $1.8 million from parking fees and fines goes
March 13, 2016
You get in your car, tired from a long day of school, put your key in the ignition and stop when you notice a little white paper tucked in between the windshield and the wiper blade: A parking ticket.
Maybe you should have spent the $26.65 at the beginning of the quarter for the parking permit you thought you didn’t need or didn’t want to buy as a form of passive protest.
But you’ve been caught and it’s time to pay. As you punch in your credit card number, you think to yourself, “How much money does the school make citing schmucks like me?”
In short, all of the money generated from the De Anza College parking lot daily permits, parking citations, parking permits and fees from special events (Flea Market) goes to the Foothill-De Anza Police Department.
Currently, the initial fine for a parking violation is $45 dollars. That money is distributed into many parts: The Foothill-De Anza Community College district pockets nearly half of the citation fine, with the Senate Bill 1407 fee taking 17 percent and then the court and criminal charges allotting 11 percent.
The SB1407 fee was signed into California law in 2008 and creates steady revenue from court fees and penalties to “finance new courthouse construction and renovation projects,” according to the California Courts website.
In 2015, the Foothill-De Anza district police issued 8,531 citations. At $45 a fine, that is an estimated $384,000 in fines.
In the 2014-2015 fiscal year (academic year), the district police department generated almost $260,000 from De Anza parking citations, said FHDA-Police Department Chief Ronald Levine.
Sales of parking permits during the 2014-2015 fiscal totaled $1.6 million (daily, quarterly and annual) at De Anza.
That leaves the police department with more than $1.8 million in parking lot revenue from De Anza alone.
The revenue from permits and the parking fees for special events make up the district’s parking fund, which pays for the parking lot maintenance, parking security costs and the biggest expenditure, financing the Flint Parking Garage.
The garage payments cost the students and the district police department $995,867 in the 2014-2015 fiscal year, Levine said. That’s almost half of the money the De Anza parking lot generated in the same year.
Financing for renovating the Flint Garage will be rolled into the current payment structure.
The police department’s parking revenue from Foothill and De Anza combined in the 2014-2015 fiscal year was $2.8 million, but with police expenses at $3.3 million, Levine said that the police budget is “in the red every year.”
Levine said that the $100-per year, per-student cap on permits set by the state keeps revenue stagnant and does not account for the increase in expenditures every year. He said the Board of Trustees could raise the cap by $1 per year, but they have avoided doing so for the last 20 years.
“Unfortunately, every expense has increased during that time, without the ability to recover the on-going costs,” he said. “The District Police budget is in the ‘red’ every year, as we now encroach on the General Fund to make up the difference.”
In the 2014-2015 fiscal year, the FHDA General Fund paid for 36 percent of police expenses, Levine said, while revenue from parking accounted for 64 percent of the police budget.
Becky Bartindale, FHDA-district coordinator of communications and public affairs, said that there is no way “predict the future” or to guess what the board might do.
“However, as you know, times were very, very tough for the past few years with state budget cuts,” Bartindale said, “and even then, no increase in the fee was recommended.”
McElroy said that the district police department doesn’t actually run in the “red” and it will always have enough money to operate.
“The FHDA Police Department will never be denied enough funding to operate at the levels chosen by the district and Board of Trustees,” McElroy said. “In lean times, they are subject to budget cuts like all college/district departments.”
Don’t worry, the district police department will have plenty of money to patrol the De Anza parking lots and cite parking violators. They have to. They are literally banking on it.