TAMPA — The companies that provide cheaper parking options outside Tampa International Airport will soon start paying a "privilege fee" that will allow them to keep doing business with the airport.
Last month, the Hillsborough County Aviation Authority approved the new fee, which is 8.5 percent of gross receipts. Then on Thursday the board approved the new contracts with the three companies that provide parking outside the airport: A-1 Express Services Inc.; Memorial Airport Parking LLC; and Premier Parking Ventures LLC. Despite signing the contract, A-1 Express owner Del Smith wrote a letter to customers asking them to help oppose it.
"If imposed, this tax will present a nearly $300,000 burden to just three local parking businesses, which we feel is unfair," Smith wrote. "We currently operate a full service business at a very competitive rate, and if this new tax is put into place, we will have no choice other than to reduce services or increase our fees, neither of which we want to do."
It is the first time the parking operators are being asked to pay such a fee. Airport officials said the new fee was created to fall in line with "standard industry practice" and to raise the funds needed to keep improving Tampa International. Officials said that airports in Orlando and Sarasota (10 percent) and Fort Lauderdale and Fort Myers (8 percent) charge similar fees.
If the companies pass that fee on to their customers, the airport calculated that the new fee would cost them 45 cents a day. The new total cost of off-airport parking would be about $5.45 a day. The cheapest parking option at Tampa International, by comparison, is the $9 a day it costs to park in the economy garage. The new privilege fee will start Jan. 1.