Free parking for certain veterans at the Killeen-Fort Hood Regional Airport could be a thing of the past if the Killeen City Council decides to cut exempt parking in a move to shore up the airport’s flagging budget.
The council will receive a briefing today on the airport’s parking fee structure and consider options to recoup revenue that is lost from providing free parking for exempt motorists.
According to a city PowerPoint presentation, the airport loses around 43 percent of its parking revenue each year to the exemptions — or 11 percent of the airport’s revenues on the whole.
In fiscal year 2017, those exemptions added up to $306,832 in lost revenue, a $52,000 increase from the year before.
The city said it honors a slew of exemptions outlined in Texas Transportation Code Section 681.008 — which originally included just two exempt categories when the bill was passed in 1995.
Today the section includes 23 exemptions, all of which the city chooses to honor. The city passed an ordinance in 2015 codifying those exemptions.
For veterans, the airport offers a range of complimentary parking for motorists displaying tags as at least 50-percent disabled veterans, Medal of Honor recipients, former prisoners of war, Pearl Harbor survivors or Purple Heart recipients.
The lost revenue from parking comes at a time in which the regional airport’s enplanements have declined dramatically and one of the city’s three carriers pulled out from the city.
In late November, Delta Airlines announced it would be pulling its two daily arrivals and departures from the airport after Killeen Director of Aviation Matthew Van Valkenburgh said the city “did not meet their expectations.”
Delta’s last flights out of Killeen departed Jan. 15.
As part of its public briefing today, the city will outline five options for the council’s consideration:
- Eliminate parking exemptions.
- Accept the exemptions and limit the time those exemptions will be honored; for instance, two days of free parking.
- Accept the exemptions with a 50-percent discount rather than complimentary.
- Raise parking fees for non-exempt customers at an estimated rate of 50 cents per year.
- Keep the parking fees the same.
The city said if nothing is done to address the fees, the airport would likely require a subsidy from the city’s operational fund to remain solvent as soon as 2021.
The council will discuss the airport’s parking during a special workshop after its regular meeting at 5 p.m. today. The workshop will be held in the Utilities Collection Building at 210 W. Avenue C.