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Tampa airport officials OK higher parking rates, unveil 2014 budget

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Published:   |   Updated: August 2, 2013 at 06:05 AM

TAMPA - Tampa International Airport officials voted to increase public parking rates effective Oct. 1 in a move expected to add $1 million in revenue to the fiscal 2014 proposed budget released Thursday.

Under the proposed budget, which the Hillsborough County Aviation Authority board will consider in September, spending for operations and capital improvements will total more than $185 million. Operating expenditures will draw in part on the additional revenue from the increased parking rates, higher car rental concessions and higher fees from airlines.

The budget supports increased marketing, higher debt service expenses and infrastructure improvements. "We will continue to increase efforts to recruit new airlines," airport Chief Executive Officer Joe Lopano said.

"We also will enhance service programs for our passengers," he said, adding that he wants to continue to refine the ambiance of the airport which placed in the top three North American airports and top five worldwide in recent Airports Council International surveys.

The board by a 4-0 vote at Thursday's monthly meeting approved certain rate increases in its short- and long-term parking garages. Board member and Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn was absent.

The short-term and long-term garage fees doubled to $2 for 20 minutes, with a daily $16 maximum in the long-term garage and $20 a day in the short-term garage. The long-term garage daily rate is a $1 increase, while the short-term garage daily charge remained the same.

Parking rates for the economy garage remained unchanged at $1 for 20 minutes with a maximum of $9 daily, as did free parking for one hour in the short-term and long-term garages. The free hour enables visitors to drop off or meet passengers and alleviate the main terminal's curbside traffic congestion.

Board member Martin Garcia said the airport needed to charge what it could for its parking services to continue to support growth and improvements, while monitoring changes in patron usage to ensure the rates are properly balanced.

The airport will increase fees airlines pay per enplaned passenger from an average of $5.23 in 2013 to $5.59 in 2014.

It is important for an airport to keep those fees low to entice airlines to retain and add more flights, but Tampa officials said Thursday the increase meets its goal of maintaining airline fees at less than 30 percent of total airport revenue.

The airport said the most recent published cost per enplanement at other Florida airports ranged from $5.32 at Orlando and $5.34 at Fort Lauderdale to $7.44 in Jacksonville and $20.56 at Miami.

Airline officials have given the proposed budget a favorable review, local officials said.

The fiscal 2014 proposal lists operating revenue of $194 million and operating expenses of $102 million.

After deducting debt service, airline revenue sharing and other waivers of more than $62 million, $29.4 million would be available for reserves, an 8.2 percent increase over this year's budget.

Among increased expenses are $5.5 million more in salaries and benefits to $51.9 million, which includes adding 17 positions to a total of 603; a $4.1 million increase in debt service to $54.5 million; and a $73,200 increase in travel, conferences and training to $760,100.

That includes $285,000 for marketing, $169,700 for finance and information and technology, $107,200 for customer service and $86,800 for the chief executive officer's department.

The proposed capital improvement budget of $84.1 million for fiscal 2014 includes $58 million for checked baggage systems upgrades with federal funds, and $8.2 million to replace parking revenue control systems and economy garage equipment.

Another $106.7 million in capital projects funding is being carried over into fiscal 2014 from previous years.

tjackovics@tampatrib.com

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