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OSU To Formally Announce Private Parking Company
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As Ohio State University administrators prepare to recommend a company to lease its parking operations this afternoon, OSU President Gordon Gee continues to defend the controversial proposal.
OSU officials are expected to recommend a $483 million bid from the investment company QIC Global Infrastructure. Under the agreement the Australian firm would take over OSU parking operations for 50 years. The private company would set and collect parking fees, but it agrees to cap rate hikes at 5.5 percent per year.
Appearing on WOSUâ€™s All Sides with Ann Fisher, President Gee said OSU received higher bids than the favored one, but the other bids called for higher fee increases.
â€œWe were offered more money,” Gee said. “But if we would have taken more money we also would have not been able to cap our parking rates. The 5.5 percent is what the historical rate has been for the last 10 years.â€
Under the deal, OSU expects its endowment to grow by nearly $5 billion, generating $3 billion in interest income.
Gee said the university needs the additional money. He said the worldâ€™s economy is unstable, and he wants to make sure the institution remains in good financial standing. He called privatizing parking another â€œshock absorber.â€
â€œWeâ€™re going to take charge of our own agenda. Weâ€™re not going to be dealing with the vicissitudes of the world thatâ€™s outside in terms of how they impact the university.â€
Many students, faculty and staff are not sold on the plan.
OSU physics professor Ulrich Hines, who wrote a newspaper op-ed piece against the plan, tuned into to hear President Gee on Allsides Thursday morning.
â€œDoomsday warnings about imminent breakdown of university financing as a whole and so on, I think this is leading us astray,” Hines said.
Hines and other professors have conducted their own studies claiming the university will not profit from it. Hines claims under the favored bid, the university will merely break even.
â€œWe are lucky that the bid has come out as high as $483 million. If it had been $400 million as originally assumed or hoped for by the university, it would have been a deficit for us,” he said.
The other two bids came in at $523 million and $390 million. But the rate increases over the next ten years reached 7.5 percent.
Ultimately the decision is in the hands of the OSU Board of Trustees.