City to petition TSA on change in ‘exit lane’ responsibility

City to petition TSA on change in ‘exit lane’ responsibility

By Joseph Basco | | Posted: Tuesday, October 22, 2013 10:14 pm
The Transportation Security Administration’s plan to relinquish responsibility for certain airport security measures has prompted the city to protest the move.
On Jan. 1, 2014, TSA plans to give local airport authorities the responsibility to monitor arriving flight passengers. For example, at Midland International Airport, it would be the area adjacent to the TSA security checkpoint near the escalators leading to baggage claim.
The cost-saving measure would save the federal agency about $88.1 million for fiscal year 2014.
“This allows the administration to focus on its most critical responsibilities, such as the screening of passengers and baggage,” TSA said in a statement.

The city, fearing the financial and personnel implications of the measure, officially sent a petition to the TSA that asks the agency to withdraw the amendment. City Council ratified the petition during Tuesday’s council meeting.
Marv Esterly, the city’s director of airports, said the transfer of responsibility to Midland International Airport would cost the city between $135,000 and $230,000 annually. And the cost may affect airlines and passenger ticket prices.
“The only place we can go to recoup those costs is to the airlines,” Esterly said. “And the airlines will not only continue to pay TSA for those ‘exit lane’ monitors but their cost in doing business in Midland will increase.”
Currently, the TSA mandates a fee from airlines to pay for the monitoring of exit lanes. Esterly said that TSA intends to continue collecting the fee even after the transfer of responsibility in January.

In addition to the financial implications, it may be difficult to hire new personnel for the task, especially in Midland, Esterly said.
“And they (TSA) want to do this quickly,” Esterly said. “They notified us a few weeks ago that we have to take responsibility by January, which is just insane for us to be able to man that or come up with some kind of technological method to secure that exit lane in such a short amount of time.”
Once local airports take over responsibility, TSA will inspect the exit lanes for compliance “as part of its regulatory inspection program.”
“Airports and airlines have a responsibility under their TSA-approved security program to ensure access areas are secure,” TSA said in a statement.

Mayor Wes Perry, one of six on the council who ratified the petition on Tuesday, said the bottom line is that “it’s a bad decision.”
“They (TSA) are trying to make us pay for stuff that they are actually getting paid for,” Perry said. “And now the city, our taxpayers, has to pay for it, so it’s unfair.”
In other business:
– The city has selected Brinkley Sargent Architects Inc., of Dallas, as the architectural and engineering consultant for the new Municipal Court.
The new Municipal Court, to be located on a city-owned lot at the southeast intersection of Baird Street and Illinois avenue, has been in the works ever since city officials expressed a desire for a larger, updated building. $8 million has been allocated for the new court.

The city will pay $805,637 for Brinkley Sargent Architects’ services.
– The city is delaying the purchase of downtown parking meters, citing the amount of construction planned for the downtown area.
– The city is also releasing an advertisement for bids for the Lamesa Road paving project. The project entails the reconstruction of 1.5 miles of Lamesa Road between Dormard Avenue and Walnut Avenue.

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