The budget for the Metro Airport is projected to increase by nearly 5 percent in 2013 to $13.1 million, according to a proposal presented to the Airport Commission’s finance committee Tuesday.
The increase from an expected $12.5 million expenditure in 2012 will be funded primarily through non-airline revenue, which is expected to jump $400,000 to $9 million, according to a presentation made by Cary Morgan, the airport’s business manager.
Non-airline revenue comes from parking, concessions, rental car companies, leases of airport property and other sources.
Airline revenue comes from fees the airport charges the airlines and work out to about $10 per passenger, according to Anthony Marino, the airport’s executive director.
Airline revenue is expected to remain relatively flat in 2013, at $4.6 million, according to a copy of the budget.
One commissioner, Andrew McCandless, questioned whether the fees charged airlines should be lowered.
McCandless contended that lowering the cost to the airlines would generate more traffic, drive down consumer cost, and entice more carriers and higher frequency of flights through the airport.
Marino responded that lowering airline fees would not affect consumer costs or the frequency of flights.
McCandless also questioned Morgan about whether the police and firefighting functions performed now by airport staff could be outsourced as way to reduce costs.
“As the costs get more and more ridiculous, outsourcing makes more and more sense,” he said.
Marino replied that using outside firms or agencies to fill the role of the current force’s 29 officers, who function as both police and firefighters, would be cost-prohibitive.
Morgan said revenue is projected to exceed expenditures by $605,230 in 2013. The excess funds will be placed into reserve accounts, he said.
The biggest increases in expenditures come from increased contributions to employee benefit programs, Morgan said.
Employee benefits will account for approximately 54 percent of employee salary and benefit costs in 2013, Morgan said.
The committee recommended by a 3-1 vote that the full commission approve the budget at its next meeting Aug. 7. After the commission votes, the airport’s budget will be sent to the city-parish’s finance department for inclusion in the overall city-parish budget to be considered by the Metro Council later this year.