Official: Parking ticket rates at UNA might increase

by Staff Writer Spencer Brooks

Soon parking could be more than just a pain in the butt. It could be a pain in the wallet.

A parking committee of faculty, staff and student representatives might increase the cost of all campus parking violations.

“The current fines are not a strong enough deterrent to keep people following the policies,” said Chief of Police Kevin Gillilan. “We’re trying to understand why people are violating the policy. People say, ‘well it’s only $20.’”

He said the fines for parking in either a handicap space or fire lane illegally might increase to $100 per ticket.

The cost of common fines like “no proper parking permit” or “parking in a prohibited zone” could increase from $20 to $50 per ticket.

Gillilan said the committee has not made a decision on these proposed increases.

The city of Florence and the university are working together with experts to conduct a parking study around the campus and the downtown area, Gillilan said.

“A firm has been contracted to come in and have regular meetings at the Florence-Lauderdale Public Library,” he said. “These are experts who have done similar studies at Alabama and Auburn to better parking.”

The joint parking study with the city of Florence will drive any further parking changes on campus, he said.

Senior Courtney Watkins said she has never received a parking ticket at UNA. If she is not able to find a parking spot, she said she decides to leave and miss class.

“I can’t afford a ticket,” she said. “If I’m late to class, I am marked absent anyways.”

Sophomore Zakaria Al-Ibrahim said he thinks the university might increase prices because there are not enough parking spaces on campus.

It usually takes him about 20 minutes to find parking, he said.

The current fine rates for all parking violations are available on the UNA website. Three out of 14 violation fines exceed $20.

Gillilan said the fining structure at UNA, when compared to other universities, is far behind. Even with the increases, UNA still has the cheapest parking ticket costs.

The proposed price increases are based on the fines universities similar to UNA charge, he said.

Auburn University fines $150 for parking illegally in a handicap space and the University of Alabama $250, according to their parking regulation websites. UNA currently fines $50 for this violation.

Gillilan said he thinks students do not take advantage of the shuttle service as much as they could.

“Rather than driving around for an hour, parking far away or risking a citation, (students can) plan ahead and utilize the shuttle offered,” he said.

However, junior Mana Ichihara said the buses are inconvenient.

“We do not know the exact time for when the bus comes,” she said. “We have to wait for a long time.”