Baton Rouge Airport Director Says Employees Need Raise

Metro Airport Aviation Director Anthony Marino argues that it's unfair to pay his employees the same as other city-parish workers.

The largest pay reclassification would go to Marino, increasing his annual $87,180 salary by $5,370. In addition, Marino receives $4,287 per month in city-parish retirement benefits, said city-parish Retirement Director Jeff Yates.

Marino also complained in the budget request that his department is hamstrung by regulations as a branch of city-parish government.

"The airport is attempting to operate as a business, but is part of government," the budget request said. "This constrains activities that are necessary to operating a profitable venture, such as lease agreements. The city requires more requirements and less flexibility to negotiate and structure leases."

The budget request also says Metro Airport has to follow government regulations that require major purchasing contracts to go to the lowest bidder. "Sometimes this may not be the best provider," Marino said.

Marino has previously raised the question of whether the airport should be a city-parish department, Monsour said. "It's really almost an age-old issue," he said.

If Marino wants to change the way that the airport is run, he should take his case to the Airport Authority, which actually the Metro Council, Monsour said.

In all, the airport's 2007 spending plan anticipates expenses to total $10.7 million, up from this year's $9.3 million. Revenues for next year are projected to total $11.9 million, which are expected to result in a surplus of almost $1.2 million.

One of Metro Airport's goal for 2007 is to keep its average fares within $40 of its major competitor, Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport in Kenner.

Marino's budget request indicates that airport officials are looking to seat a record number of passengers on commercial flights next year as the post-Katrina boom continues.

The proposed 2007 airport budget anticipates a record 598,243 passengers, a 2.5 percent increase over this year's 583,652. In 2005, the passenger count was 523,417. In 2004, the last full year before Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast, the passenger count was 375,412.

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