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The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

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Partial permit refund result of low fuel prices

By Isabella Bravo, Staff Writer

Low fuel prices are bringing U parking permit holders a small refund.

Because of a recent drop in the cost of diesel fuel, the Utah Transit Authority has scheduled to remove the fuel surcharge from the price of the U’s Ed-Pass, bringing the cost down 10 percent. Commuter Services has subsequently scheduled a partial refund on all parking permits that have been paid in full.

UTA tacked a fuel surcharge onto the U’s contract for the transit passes beginning in July, said UTA spokeswoman Carrie Bohnsack-Ware. Commuter Services pays for the Ed-Passes, available to all students and faculty, with money from the purchase of parking permits.

Commuter Services, as a subdivision of the U’s Auxiliary Services, is not a state-subsidized department on campus. Commuter Services can only spend money that it can generate, so to compensate for the surcharge, Commuter Services added a 10 percent increase to the price of parking permits at the beginning of Fall Semester.

The permit price adjustment accounted for a fuel surcharge added to all four installments on the contract with UTA.

Commuter Services paid the fuel surcharge from July to December 2008 and will pay the surcharge for the first three months of 2009. UTA removed the surcharge for the last installment of the school year that accounts for the U’s public transit access from April to June 2009, Bohnsack-Ware said.

Alma Allred, director of commuter services, said the refund amounts to one-fourth of 10 percent, because UTA only removed one-fourth of the surcharge.

The U permit refund is $3.30. The refund for E permits is $1.65. Allred said $3.30 sounds small, but the total refund that Commuter Services is responsible for will be more than $24,000. Refund money comes

directly from the original parking permit funds.

“We don’t spend the money as soon as we get it,” Allred said.

Allred said the refund mostly affects students. Students and U affiliates have purchased 8,000 U permits and 3,500 E permits. The majority of those who hold A permits for faculty and full-time staff, T permits for access to park in terraces or R and MR/R-24 permits, which are individual reservations, are U staff and faculty who probably will not receive a refund. Allred said that because 99 percent of those are on payroll deduction, they haven’t paid the surcharge yet.

“We’re just trying to figure out the logistics of it,” he said. “We don’t want to have $24,000 in cash all in one place with thousands of students waiting in line.” Allred said Commuter Services is arranging a direct deposit system for the refund.

UTA will remove the fuel surcharge April 1 and will then institute a fare increase originally scheduled for Jan. 1. UTA deferred the January increase in light of the economic downturn, but rescheduled it for April when the agency announced the removal of the fuel surcharge. UTA ticket prices will drop by 50 cents and rise by 25 cents on April 1.

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