TAMPA — The cost of hourly parking at Tampa International Airport is going up.
The Hillsborough County Aviation Authority's governing board on Thursday unanimously approved increasing parking fees at its short- and long-term garages. Parking for less than one hour will still be free.
The plan doubles the cost of parking in either garage from $1 per 20 minutes to $2 per 20 minutes. Anyone who stays longer than an hour will have to pay for the first hour — $6 — plus $2 for every 20 minutes after that.
Under the new rates, parking in the long-term garage will max out at $16 per day, an increase of $1. Parking in the short-term garage will remain a maximum of $20 per day. Fees for parking in the economy lot near the post office and cellphone lot will also stay the same, $9 per day.
The new rates take effect Oct. 1.
Airport officials said the increases stem from a 2012 parking study that found that the airport's parking rates had fallen behind what other Florida airports are charging. TIA's last parking fee increase was in 2007.
Board chairman Robert Watkins and member Victor Crist said they initially had reservations about the increases but after reading the study felt the changes were justified. Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn was absent from the meeting.
The changes are expected to raise an additional $1.1 million in airport revenue. Another $924,000 will come from increasing the cost of employee parking. The new parking rates upped the monthly parking fee for airport employees from $12 to $25 in the north lot and from $20 to $35 in the airside lots. The increases will be phased in over two years.
The additional revenue will help offset recent improvements to airport parking garages, including adding safety phones and renovating garage ramps, which is under way. By 2017, the airport expects it will have spent a total of $113 million upgrading its parking facilities.
In other airport business, board members got their first look at the proposed budget for fiscal year 2014, starting Oct. 1. The budget anticipates 17.2 million passengers will come through TIA next year, an increase of 1.8 percent over this year's expected 16.9 million. It's the fourth year of projected growth and largest jump since 2010, but well below 2008's figure of 18.7 million.
The airport expects to reap the most money from parking ($57.8 million) followed by airline revenue ($48.3 million), car rentals ($39.6 million) and concessions ($20.7 million). Car rental revenues will increase the most, $4 million over this year, based on more passenger traffic.
Next year will be big in terms of capital improvements. The airport has $84 million in improvements planned, including $58 million for a new baggage inspection system that detects for explosives. The new system will be paid entirely through grants from the federal Transportation Security Administration.
Also in the works is a $2.3 million project to automate the boarding pass check-in area for people boarding the shuttles linking the main terminal and the gates. The project would allow passengers to scan their boarding pass to get to the shuttles, cutting in half the number of employees needed to manually check passes.
The budget and capital improvement plan will come back to the board for approval in September.