Palm Springs-City Mulls Cutting Jobs At Airport To Balance Budget

Wednesday, June 2, 2004
City Mulls Cutting Jobs At Airport To Balance
Budget By Brian Joseph
The Palm Springs (CA) Desert Sun

Some 15 employees at the Palm Springs International Airport could lose their jobs under a proposal that will go before the City Council on June 9. To balance its fiscal year 2004-05 budget of roughly $12 million, the airport is proposing eliminating 16 jobs — 15 of which are currently filled.

They include an administrative position, a secretarial position, four operations agents and nine janitorial workers.

Central to the layoff proposal is a plan to privatize janitorial services.

Airport officials estimate they could save between $200,000 and $300,000 in wages and benefits by eliminating nine workers and privatizing janitorial service.

New airport director Richard Walsh, who has been in the job for three months, said the airport spends about $550,000 on personnel costs for its janitorial staff and an additional $100,000 for contracts to clean the carpets and windows.

“So, if I have a $700,000 block of money to clean the facility, what should I be getting for that? For 150,000 square feet, you do the math. It doesn’t make a lot of sense,” Walsh said.

“Our expenses are far outpacing our revenues,” Walsh said Tuesday. “And it’s been that way for a number of years.”

The airport is on track for a record-setting year in 2004, with traffic expected to surpass 1.3 million total passengers for the first time.

But Walsh said layoffs are needed because the airport’s contributions to the California Public Employees’ Retirement System have skyrocketed since the economic malaise following the terrorist attacks of 9/11.

Meanwhile, the airport has spent down its reserve fund on security improvements required by the Transportation Security Administration following the attacks.

The airport’s operating budget is independent from the city’s; it is supposed to be self-sustaining.

Josue Andrade, 40, who has worked one of the airport’s janitorial jobs for about 10 years, said Tuesday he and his co-workers are worried by the layoff talk. But so far no one in upper management has told him his job is in jeopardy.

Airport spokesman Bryant Francis said the airport will do what it can to help laid-off employees find jobs, possibly with whatever company gets the janitorial contract.

Airport staffing

  • About 1,140 people work at the airport, including security guards, car rental clerks and airline employees.
  • About 60 people are employed by the city and specialize in administration, marketing, accounting and janitorial services
  • Janitorial staff consists of nine positions, which are responsible for cleaning bathrooms and emptying trash. Carpet and window cleaning services are contracted out.