DALLAS (TIP): The Dallas City Council signed off Wednesday, August 5, on allowing vendors at the airport to raise prices for food and other retail items by 10 percent. The change was authorized after three of the seven companies operating concessions at the airport said they were struggling to make a decent profit.

The council voted 10-5 to allow the increase to those vendors who agree to pay their employees at least $10.37 an hour. The minimum wage in Texas is $7.25.

Those who opposed the price increases, including Mayor Mike Rawlings, objected that the city should not let vendors out of contracts they signed.

Rawlings noted that one vendor, Gilbert Aransas, the owner of Star Concessions, was quoted in The Dallas Morning News as saying he knew he would try to change the terms of the deal even as he was submitting his bid.

The mayor, a former Pizza Hut CEO, said he saw no evidence that Love Field vendors were losing money. He noted that 26 companies sought concession contracts at the airport and didn’t get them.

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“I’m sure in 10 minutes I can get somebody to take his [Arena’s] business,” the mayor said, adding, “This is about enriching concessionaires. Let’s be honest.”

Council member Scott Griggs, who supported the price hikes, argued that he saw no problem with renegotiating contracts so long as doing so was in the interest of both sides. He endorsed the idea of tying the price increases to raises for vendors’ workers, something he opposed when the council last discussed the matter in June.

“This is about the employees who are making the least, working hard and serving as ambassadors to Dallas,” he said.

Jennifer Steinbach Gates said if contracts need to be changed, they should be re-bid. She expressed concern that the city was changing the rules for its friends. Aranza has donated $22,000 in the last seven years to council candidates, including Griggs, Philip Kingston, Monica Alonzo, Mark Clayton and Tiffinni Young.

Those five, plus Adam McGough, Adam Medrano, Erik Wilson, Carolyn King Arnold and Casey Thomas, voted to change the contracts. The mayor, Gates, Lee Kleinman, Rickey Callahan and Sandy Greyson were opposed.

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