Some parking rates for passengers will rise at Lehigh Valley International Airport next year.
A subcommittee of the airport's board approved four changes to long-term and economy parking at a meeting Wednesday, and also agreed to increases in the cost of permits for ground transportation services, such as taxis and hotel courtesy shuttles.
Parking rates will rise from $60 to $72 for passengers who park for six or seven days in long-term parking. The cost will be $13 for any cars that park in the long-term lot from six hours to a full day. Previously, rates increased to a full-day rate of $12 after the fifth hour in long-term parking.
The cost of parking in the economy lot for six or seven days will be $48, up from $40. There will be no changes in fees for cars parked for fewer than six days in either lot.
Metered parking will increase 25 cents, to 75 cents for 15 minutes.
The cost of permits for taxis, limousines and hotel courtesy shuttles will also rise, from $350 a year per vehicle to $400.
There will be no immediate changes in short-term parking rates, though the airport may increase fees at that lot next year, officials said.
The airport's finance committee also tentatively approved the proposed 2007 LVIA budget, which foresees a 7 percent increase in revenue.
The parking changes and the proposed budget are subject to approval from the full board, which will hold its regular monthly meeting Tuesday.
Based on current parking patterns, the airport expects to gain about $130,000 in revenue from the changes to the passenger parking lots. The increase in permit fees will add a projected $5,210 annually. LVIA sells 180 parking permits for taxis, limousines and shuttles each year.
Parking is a key source of revenue for the airport. So far this year, the airport has reported $3.9 million in parking revenue. LVIA typically raises parking fees every other year. The last slate of changes went into effect in January of 2005.
Some board members questioned the increases, while others asked why the airport does not charge more for parking.
Board member Eleanore Hayden said the increase in metered parking appears large. She said it's a concern particularly since there is a perception that fees for airlines and airfares are higher at LVIA.
George Doughty, the airport's top official, said LVIA's parking fees are modest compared to airports such as Newark and Philadelphia. He also said the airport recently added a so-called "cell phone lot" where people can park for free while waiting for incoming passengers to call to say they have arrived. He also said few other airports continue to offer metered parking.
"We leave money on the table," Doughty said.
Other board members suggested the airport consider raising parking fees more.
"Great job," said board member Kostas Kalogeropoulos, to airport staff. "Keep raising the rates."
The increases were unanimously approved by committee members.
An airport subcommittee approved a 2007 budget that forecasts revenue of $22.03 million. Airport officials expect Allegiant Air, among other carriers, to add flights next year, which will result in more revenue. Allegiant flies to Orlando and St. Petersburg, both in Florida, and is expected to increase its number of weekly flights next year.
Expenses are expected to be $16.9 million, up 5 percent from the current budget. The rise in expenses includes a 3 percent increase in salaries and a 20 percent increase in employee benefits, largely because of higher medical insurance premiums.
The airport forecasts income of $5.04 million before debt service for 2007, up 13 percent from this year. Debt service will cost $4.2 million, leaving the airport with a projected surplus of $1.2 million. The airport has projected a surplus of $1.05 million for the current year.
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