The parking garage is a common sight for all students., but in order to gain access a rather exorbitant price is required. Photo by Luis Sanchez.

Our parking garage is the best it has ever been. The seniors have been granted the biggest senior parking lot yet and new security cameras ensure that our cars are safe. However, a new year always brings new complaints about paying for a parking pass.

“It was ridiculously expensive,” senior Nabor Mireles said. “I know other schools that pay $20, and we pay almost 10x that. I don’t know that it’s worth it.”

“It’s a piece of plastic that costs over $160,” senior Eliot Hammon continues.

Mrs. Eve Grubb, Vice President of Finance, explained the reason for the perceived hefty costs.

She explained that while all $4,500,000 it cost to build the garage was raised before breaking ground in the 2009 Capital Campaign, maintaining the garage also carries a heavy price tag.

“One hundred percent of funds raised [through selling parking passes] goes to maintenance and repairs of the facility,” Grubb said. “Every summer we power wash a portion of the facility. It’s very expensive.”

Funds from Parking Passes to Maintenance

The high cost is also partially due to EPA regulations that prevent STH from doing the cleaning in-house. The school has to hire outside companies, which use environmentally sound methods and collect the used water.

The school must also pay for the labor which cleans the garage regularly and for their heavy-duty scrubber, which Grubb reports to have costed $10,000 alone.

“Think about how many $150 parking passes you have to sell to be able to buy a scrubber,” Grubb said.

Even after raising this money, however, the school must pay more to fully clean the facility. Grubb portrays the price to be a relative bargain.

“We spend far more than the collected fees,” Grubb said. “Think about it: only juniors and seniors mostly drive to school, and not everybody has a parking pass. What we collect only pays for a portion of the cleaning, so we don’t tie the cost directly to the price of parking passes. If we did, we would have to raise the price of parking passes, and we want kids to be able to drive to school.”

While this should comfort students about paying for their passes, students have also worried about the tax added onto the cost.

“It’s the State of Texas sales tax,” Grubb said. “People say we’re tax exempt, but we’re only tax exempt from paying taxes, not from collecting it when we sell something.”

In short, while St. Thomas does not have to pay taxes on things that it buys, by law it must still tax things that it sells.

Hopefully students may drive in comfort knowing that the pass costs go toward making our garage cleaner and safer for us all.

If you would still like to see the prices go down, Grubb ends with a word of advice.

“The more students pick up trash, the easier it is to control our costs.”

Ryan is the Student Body President of St. Thomas High School. Outside of Student Council, he is a state-champion speaker on the Speech and Debate team, an anchor for the Eagle Broadcast Network, and a well-below-average basketball player.