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Parking Lot Lease Could Ease IU Budget Woes

IU leaders say it will be a couple weeks before they decide if they want to lease the school's parking operations to a private firm.

Parking Ticket

Photo: Will Wamathai / Indiana Public Media

IU grosses $23 million a year in parking fees and fines but spends about that much on campus bus service and other expenses, meaning it nets little to no profit.

State budget leaders say they are not sure what effect, if any, the leasing of Indiana University’s parking operations to a private operator would have on state appropriations to the school. But one state lawmaker says he will not let other schools attempt to use it to IU’s disadvantage.

When The Ohio State University leased its parking operations to an outside firm for the next 50 years, it netted just less $500 million. That, in turn, set Indiana University leaders, already strapped for cash, to work.

In a couple weeks, IU Chief Financial Officer Neil Theobald will meet with the school’s financial advisors in an attempt to determine whether parking operations on the Bloomington and IUPUI campuses should be similarly mortgaged. But Theobald says reaping potentially hundreds of millions of dollars from a private parking operator is not meant as a message to those holding the purse strings in the Indiana General Assembly.

“This is more of a response to the state than any kind of partnership with them,” Theobald says.  “Saying ‘Ok, the trend has been downward, it looks to be very likely that Bloomington will again go down in the next biennium…’ If we’re going to be taking money away from these campuses, the old model was ‘Ok, the state takes money away, we raise tuition’. We cannot continue to do that.”

State Budget Committee Chairman Luke Kenley (R-Noblesville) says he would want to converse with IU leaders about how they plan to spend any money they raise, but says there are not any specific avenues he would like them to pursue. However, Kenley says if the windfall comes up in discussions with leaders of other schools during the upcoming budget session of the legislature, he will not look kindly on other public institutions trying to make the case they should get more money than IU because of the parking operations lease.

“My response to that would be ‘You need as creative or as businesslike as IU in terms of evaluating what all your resources are and don’t rely on them or their efforts to justify your case,’” Kenley says.

Theobald stresses IU has not yet decided to give up running its own parking lots and garages, but does note that though parking brings in $23 million a year in Bloomington and Indianapolis, the university spends the cash to subsidize bus service and offset other costs, so profits are all but nonexistent.

Stan Jastrzebski

WFIU/WTIU News Senior Editor Stan Jastrzebski spent time as a reporter with WGN Radio in Chicago and as an editor at Network Indiana, an Indianapolis news service. Stan is the winner of awards from the Associated Press, the RTDNA, the Indiana Broadcasters Association and the Society of Professional Journalists. He hosts WFIU's Ask the Mayor and anchors WTIU's InFocus.

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  • Bob Eckert

    “Theobald stresses IU has not yet decided to give up running its own
    parking lots and garages, but does note that though parking brings in
    $23 million a year in Bloomington and Indianapolis, the university
    spends the cash to subsidize bus service and offset other costs, so
    profits are all but nonexistent.”

    Forgive me for asking the OBVIOUS but how will IU pay to run it’s bus service or
    is that going to be outsourced to the city? Any way you slice it, it means people
    being let go of their job lifeline for a short-term influx of cash that no one knows
    how it will be used or whether the return on it will be worth the initial outsource.

    IU should be finding ways to make the parking and bus service more efficient
    so there WILL be a profit that it can use for other purposes.

  • Pingback: Videographer/Photographer: William Kanyi Wamathai | Self-Made Talents News

  • http://twitter.com/jcgadfly Gadfly

    Making IU more efficient? Are you crazy? If it makes sense that’s the last thing they want to do.

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