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Airport wants OK to raise parking fees to fund improvements

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Published:   |   Updated: July 30, 2013 at 12:09 PM

TAMPA - Parking rates for Tampa International Airport's short-and long-term parking garages would double to $2 for each 20 minutes in a proposal to be considered Thursday by the Hillsborough County Aviation Authority.

That means parking for each hour would increase to $6 from $3, although the maximum daily rate at the long-term garage would increase by only $1 to $16. The short-term garage daily maximum would remain at $20.

The hike, which would generate an additional $1 million in revenue for the airport, supports continued investments in parking improvements and helps maintain competitively low fees the airport charges airlines, according to airport spokeswoman Janet Zink.

"Our parking rate ... has not changed since 2007, but we have invested more than $85 million in our parking and ground transportation facilities since that time," Zink said in an email. Improvements include compressed natural gas vehicles to shuttle economy garage passengers and ongoing renovations to the short-term garage ramps.

"We are also planning another $28 million investment in our parking facilities in the next five years," Zink said. "Even with these increases, our daily maximum rate for the long-term garage is less than that at most airports in Florida, including Jacksonville, Orlando and Miami."

Free parking for those who use the short-term and long-term parking garages for up to an hour would be preserved under the proposal.

That concept is intended in part to help limit traffic on vehicle lanes outside the arrivals level at the main terminal, so greeters can park for free and meet arriving passengers inside the terminal.

No changes in rates are proposed for the economy garage, which charges $1 for each 20 minutes with a $9 daily maximum.

Valet parking rates would remain at $2 per 30 minutes, with a $5 minimum, and $25 maximum per day.

The 500-plus airport employees who work for the aviation authority, aviation authority board members and airport volunteers get free parking. Some of the tenant employees get free parking covered by their employer.

Monthly rates for tenants, Transportation Security Administration employees and airport-based airline employees for the North employee parking lot would increase to $18 from $12 in fiscal 2014 and to $25 in fiscal 2015, the first increases since 2002.

Those employees using airside lots would face a rate increase to $27 from $20 in fiscal 2014 and to $35 in fiscal 2015.

"We have been operating those facilities at a loss, and these rate increases will allow us to break even on these parking operations while still offering rates that are lower than those at other Florida airports," Zink said.

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