Transportation Services facing deficit, will continue into fiscal year 2022; funding dependent on student enrollment
The GPSA Senate voted to approve a $1.80 student transportation fee increase during their meeting Monday evening.
Senators voiced mixed opinions over the fee increase and came to a 29-23 vote to approve it. They discussed whether the university truly needs the increase or if student fee increases are the go-to solution to supplement revenue.
GPSA Senator Sandte Stanley pushed back against the student fee increase during a discussion before voting. She said the university would likely keep any department operational as they see fit, even without increasing student fees.
The problem is not with the fee amount but that students are the go-to solution for supplementing revenue. She asked why student fees should be increased when students already struggle to pay the ones in place.
Chris Boyan, WSU Transportation Services associate director, said that, because of the pandemic, Transportation Services is facing a significant deficit that will carry into the 2022 fiscal year.
WSU Transportation Services relies mainly on three sources of funding that vary year to year. Its funding comes from Services and Activities fees, student fees and parking funds, which include campus parking passes. The deficit and level of services available to students in the fall largely depend on student enrollment, he said.
“Parking funds every year contributes about half a million dollars towards the transit program,” Boyan said.
The $1.80 per semester amount is a five percent increase from last year and may not be the last. Transportation Services determines whether they should propose another increase on a year-by-year basis, he said.
“It’s not a huge amount of funding,” Boyan said, “but at this point, everything helps.”
The best-case scenario for the forecasted deficit is $241,000, while the worst-case scenario could be $364,000. Boyan said the student fee increase will help supplement around $65,000 of revenue but will still leave the department with a significant deficit.
WSU will do everything it can to keep Transportation Services operational under the deficit without a decrease in services. The increase in student fees does not guarantee the level of service provided is unaffected, he said.
While the GPSA Senate has now approved the fee increase, the ASWSU Senate must also approve the measure to pass. The university cannot implement the increase without the support of both organizations, Boyan said.
“Every once in a while, something somewhat catastrophic happens that really shakes up the program in terms of funds available,” he said. “This one, of course, the COVID pandemic.”