AMHERST – The cost of parking at the Cumberland Regional Health Care Centre is going up a dollar at the end of the month.
Cumberland Health Authority CEO Bruce Quigley confirmed the move Thursday, saying the health authority is dealing with a requirement to come up with $2.5 million to balance its budget for 2014-15.
“We’re looking at about $2.5 million in cost pressures we have to find as a result of higher costs for utilities, medical and surgical equipment, increases in wage settlements and so on. There are lots of pressures on our bottom line and we look at both cost-cutting and potential revenue,” Quigley said. “The parking lot revenue is unfortunately one of those decisions we have been forced to take.”
It presently costs $2 to park at the regional hospital. It’s the only hospital in the county that charges for parking and all the money raised, between $170,000 and $180,000 annually, goes into purchasing hospital equipment like an ENT scope, anesthesia monitor and stress test unit.
As has been the case since the parking fee was first implemented when the new hospital opened in 2003, Quigley said, all the money raised from the parking fee will continue to be used to buy equipment.
“We recognize this could present a challenge to some because it is an extra dollar,” Quigley said. “It’s simply a decision we had to take and is in line with many, if not all, the district health authorities in the province.”
He said it will bring an additional $70,000 to the equipment fund.
Quigley said the authority tried to resist raising parking costs, but said it had to make the change to balance its budget. It’s one of the measures taken by the health authority to do that. Other initiatives included closing the cafeteria and consolidating laboratory services at the regional hospital.
“We’re in a very challenging time with respect to our finances and we have to leave no stone unturned and consider everything, quite frankly,” Quigley said. “We picked that (parking) so it would have the least impact to the services we offer.”