Monday, February 16, 2004
Routt County's plan to install an automated parking fee system at Yampa Valley Regional Airport may be put on hold for a year.
Airport Manager Jim Parker is expected to recommend to Routt County commissioners that they reject a pair of bids for the system. He predicted the delay created by his recommendation to re-bid the project could mean the commissioners will opt to defer it until the second phase of the terminal expansion project goes forward in 2005.
"We had hoped to benefit from (the new system) this ski season," Parker said Monday. "It's so late now, we may re-evaluate whether we want to proceed or wrap it into phase two."
The county instituted parking fees at the airport more than three years ago, but enforcement is inconsistent, Parker said. The county collects about $80,000 in parking fees annually, and Parker has estimated the new automated system would bump that amount to more than $100,000 in the first year. The cost to park at YVRA is $3 a day and $15 a week.
The airport manager said his recommendation to the commissioners that they start the process over is because the proposals from two bidders were far apart in terms of cost.
Parker said he had a difficult time reconciling the gap between the low bid of $27,455 from Arrow Systems Kontrols and $57,482 from a company called Securus.
The automated equipment would allow airport management to ensure it collects parking fees from all airport visitors without the need for staffing a kiosk where motorists exit the parking lot.
"A seasonal airport like this can't afford an attendant," Parker said. The new system would issue drivers a bar-coded ticket at the control gate that would be similar to the ticket drivers are accustomed to receiving at parking garages and other airports. Upon leaving the airport, an automated ticket reading system would display the required fee and allow the customer to pay by cash or credit card, Parker said. He added that he has heard the Aspen airport installed such a system and doubled fee collections.
People parking at the airport this winter are directed by signs to place the appropriate fee in an envelope when they arrive at the airport. Although airport staff makes periodic checks in the parking lot, parking tickets are not issued, Parker said. In some extreme cases, a "boot" may be placed on the wheel of a car that has remained in the lot longer than the owner originally indicated. In other cases, cars have been towed, Parker said.
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