A plan by the San Antonio International Airport to build a plush VIP room for use by dignitaries and others is drawing fire for its cost.
An anonymous letter to KSAT 12 called the Defenders attention to the project. The letter writer, who was identified only as a “concerned taxpayer,” wrote that the airport was embarking on a $300,000 project to pay for furnishings for a conference room in Terminal B.
The writer addressed the cost of the room by saying “one way or the other, it comes out of our pockets. Show the rest of us what $300,000 buys.”
Aviation Director Frank Miller was happy to talk about the proposed room, which he said would polish San Antonio's image.
"We actually call it more of a VIP room," Miller said. "We wanted to have a little upper-scale type of room, something that doesn't have just your typical conference table. Maybe that's something we need to offer here at the airport."
Right now in the second-floor room, there are wires dangling, debris on the floor and an unfinished ceiling.
But Miller said he has seen airport VIP rooms elsewhere that offer plush accommodations for CEOs and other dignitaries and he wanted to bring one here. He said it would have the latest in electronics, including equipment for Power Point presentations.
"We're talking about video conferencing,” Miller said. “What if someone needed to do that?"
He said a nicely appointed room could be rented to some groups. Others would use it for free in the name of economic development for the city.
However, he said the project will not cost $300,000.
"All said and done, it's hard to say right now, but maybe $100,000, (or) $150,000 when it's all finished," Miller said. “While we want to make a real good impression and we want to have something of really high quality and caliber at the same time we want to be fiduciarily responsible.”
He said the VIP room is not being paid for by the city but by the airport itself, which funds its own operations.
“The airport is totally self-sufficient,” Miller said. “We do not use any local tax dollars from the city.”
But the letter writer warns that if concession items and rents go up at the airport to pay for such a room, “we'll all share the burden.”