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February 19, 2004

City’s soaring parking tax may mean hike in Pitt permit cost

Downtown parking garage owners weren’t the only ones paying higher taxes beginning this month when Pittsburgh parking tax rates shot up from 31 to 50 percent. Pitt also pays the tax on its Oakland campus parking spaces.

The hike may affect parking fees for Pitt permit holders, according to Pitt spokesperson John Fedele. “At this point, we don’t know whether some of that increase or all of that increase or none of that increase will be passed onto lease holders,” Fedele said. He declined to say when a decision on permit fees is expected.

“The city now taxes us $3.33 on every $10 earned in parking fees,” Fedele said, a formula that equals 50 percent of Pitt’s post-tax profits ($6.66).

The city tax rate last year was 31 percent, which translated into a total of $1,037,194 in city parking tax Pitt paid in fiscal year 2003 on its 4,604 spaces, Fedele said. Pitt expects to pay at least $200,000 in extra taxes by the end of this fiscal year, he added.

Most of Pitt’s parking revenue is raised through monthly permit fees for faculty, staff and students. Pitt charges faculty and staff $75 per month for an indoor garage space (there are 2,444 of those); and $70 a month for an outdoor space (1,657 spaces total).

The University leases an additional 386 spaces from private property owners, which Pitt turns around and leases mainly to permit holders. Pitt also operates 117 metered public parking spaces.

The University raises additional revenues by renting some permit spaces to the public at hourly rates during non-business hours.

Parking revenue supports maintenance, lighting, paving, striping, concrete repair, security and debt service, Fedele said.

Parking fees at Pitt last were raised July 1, 1999, following a 5 percent boost in the city’s parking tax. That $10/month across the board hike partially was offset by pre-tax payroll deductions for parking expenses, which were approved by the IRS in January 1999.

—Peter Hart

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