San Antonio City Council members strengthened their stance on a proposal to spend $1 million for an airport car rental facility technical representative.
At the start of the debate, District 10 Councilman Carlton Soules joked that in the spirit of Christmas, he would promise not to ask questions for more than an hour and a half, which was actually about how long the debate lasted.
Soules has long been an opponent of spending $1 million over three years for the Michigan-based firm, Jacobsen Daniels Associates, to provide expertise, advice, guidance, and mediation services between the car rental companies and the city. He believes San Antonio already has personnel to take care of such matters.
"I'm trying to understand why we feel the need for another million dollar consultant to be a part of this process," he told TPR earlier this week. "We've got engineers, we've got paid architects and designers and contractors who understand how to build rental car facilities."
But, airport leaders think the technical representative will be an integral part of the project to add the convenience of car rentals for travelers arriving in San Antonio.
Councilman Joe Krier, a fellow North Side representative, agreed with Soules.
"I have to confess that the more I have learned about this, the less enthused I have gotten," he said. "We're paying these guys $1 million to ‘be an intermediary between you and the car dealers.’ It is still unclear, based on talking to everybody, who these guys really in fact work for."
Councilwoman Ivy Taylor offered a solution of a phased approach with city staff pitching in where necessary.
"We want to be good stewards of the scarce public dollars, but we also want the project to be successful," Taylor said.
The council ultimately voted to devise an alternative, which could include finding portions of the project for city staff to work on in order to reduce the $1 million price tag.
Aviation Director for the San Antonio International Airport, Frank Miller, says he is not frustrated, and that the project isn't being delayed. The schematic design, including where the facility would be located, is being finished now.
"It boils down to what the council wants to do after they hear all of the information, but we'll show them what we're talking about and give them as much information as we can and let them make the final vote," Miller said.
The council will again hear this issue in a January B session before it goes up for a final vote.