Airport employees will pay parking fees

Posted: Thursday, June 24, 2004

Jim Allday is among the workers at the Juneau Airport who aren't happy they're going to have to pay $35 a month for parking, starting July 1.

"This isn't the highest-paying job in the world," said Allday, who makes $10 an hour as a stocker at the airport. "I don't think we should pay to go to work."

About 300 of the 600 workers or their employers will have to pay, according to Patricia A. deLaBruere, airport business manager. Others park in the cargo area or have shuttle service.

Connie Beattie, employee of Wings of Alaska Airline, said the policy is unfair.

"Both my husband and I work at the airport. That means $70 a month. It's a lot of money just to park," Beattie, 54, said.

A petition has been circulating among airport employees, demanding that the city reverse the policy. Airport managers and many employees who signed the petition didn't know who started it.

"There is no useable mass transit service for airport employees. There is no street parking. There are no alternatives for airport employees to park their vehicles within walking distance of the airport," according to the petition.

Airport business manager deLaBruere said the airport board has entertained the idea of imposing an employee parking fee for several years and finally decided to implement it this year to balance the airport's budget.

"It is not an arbitrary fee assessment," deLaBruere said. "This is the result of numerous public Airport Board Finance Committee meetings. People had plenty of opportunities to give input."

The new employee parking fee will generate $80,000 a year, which will go into the airport's operating budget, according to Joe Heueisen, chair of the airport board.

"You are not going to find parking space across the street for nothing at airports in other states," Heueisen said. "We had people who told us that employees here should be happy that they have to pay only $35 a month."

Major carriers, such as Alaska Airlines, will pay for their employees but the fee will become a burden for smaller airlines.

"Right now we have three full-time employees and a part-time employee working at the Juneau airport. We probably will go back to just three," said Mike O'Daniel, vice president of Skagway Air. "Eventually, the fees will be passed on to the customers. It is not my employees' fault for coming to work"

"It's so typical of Juneau, continuing to raise fees," O'Daniel added.

•I-Chun Che can be reached at ichun.che@juneauempire.com.



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