Proposed increase in fees at BTR would mean more safety features in parking garages

Proposed increase in fees at BTR would mean more safety features in parking garages

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Increasing safety and much needed maintenance is why the Baton Rouge Airport officials say they need more money, and say that money will come through fees generated from various services offered through the airport.

Some travelers say more cameras would make them feel safe in the parking garages at the airport. The proposal is to add 45 new cameras.

Traveler Erin Palmintier says when she arrives at the airport at night, the garages are dim and could use cameras and better lighting.

Airport spokesperson Jim Caldwell says they're looking at $6 million worth of improvements after listening to what people have recommended.

"Well, the parking garage is 19 years old, so the lighting system is older technology. They're much better lighting systems now so feel like it's time to upgrade it and improve it," said Caldwell.

The $6 million will go to repairing water leaks, general maintenance, lighting, adding the 45 new cameras and doubling the number of emergency phones and duress buttons that are already placed throughout the garages. Caldwell says all of these updates are not because the garages are deemed unsafe, but to be proactive for security.

"We haven't had any incidents, but our director is a firm believer of making sure everything is in place, as safe as it can be," he stated.

The money would come from a proposed increase in the fee that is added when anyone rents a vehicle from the Baton Rouge Airport. It is called a customer facility charge. Currently, it is at $4.90, but Caldwell says they're proposing to increase that fee to $7.30 until 2019.

"We are self sustained," said Caldwell. "We don't take tax revenue from the city. We have to generate our own funds and they come through various fees such as the PFC, CFC."

After 2019, the fee will slowly start going back down to $4.90. It is an increase that people like Kevin Gaspard say will only keep him safer.

"I think it would be great to add more security cameras, not that I've ever had any issues before, but I feel secure when I'm being watched by someone... other than criminals that is," he said.

The item was scheduled to go before Wednesday's Metro Council Meeting, but all involved parties are trying to negotiate the proposed fee amount, so the item has once again been deferred, this time to the February 11, 2015 meeting.

Copyright 2015 WAFB. All rights reserved.