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Airport expects savings to drop 50%

Laura Sturza

For the second consecutive year, the Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena

Airport Authority has dipped into its savings account to cover the

price of security changes and lost income as a result of the Sept. 11

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terrorist attacks.

Last week, the airport released a preliminary budget that shows it

plans to spend $4.5 million from reserve funds during the 2003-04

fiscal year. So far this year, the airport has spent $29 million from

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reserves to cover costs that include a $34-million security project.

The reserve fund, which was at $71 million at the end of fiscal

year 2001-02, will be at $38 million in 2003-04, Airport Authority

spokesman Victor Gill said.

“The public probably wont see a difference [to services] right

away,” Gill said. “But unless the pattern of deficit spending can be

ended, sooner or later the operation of the airport could not take

place at an optimal level.”

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Changes could include reducing the home-insulation program, which

buffers airport noise, postponing maintenance projects, and not

hiring additional staff, said Gill, who added there is not a risk of

the facility closing.

Despite the reduction in reserves, Burbank’s airport is better off

financially than some airports nationwide, Airport Authority Vice

President Charlie Lombardo said.

“There are some airports that have no idea how they will pay for

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the [security] projects they have,” Lombardo said.

Along with the price of added security, the facility’s decreased

savings account means it will earn less interest. Coupled with lower

interest rates, the airport’s portfolio will bring in about $2

million in the coming year, down $1 million from the present fiscal

year, Gill said.

The facility also expects to lose $1 million in parking income --

from $11 million to $10 million -- because of competition from other

lots, including the new Star Park, Gill said. Annual parking income

prior to September 2001 was nearly $17 million.

On the plus side, passenger- facility fees are expected to

increase from $7.5 million to $10 million in the coming year because

the rate was increased from $3 to $4.50 per flight on April 1. The

fee helps pay for such projects as the noise- insulation program, and

also helps cover additional anticipated security needs, Gill said.

A final budget is expected to be released in May. Glendale Airport

Authority Commissioner Gerald Briggs stressed that the figures under

review are likely to be revised.


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