AUSTIN (KXAN) — Amidst another busy weekend at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport that saw long security lines, the chair of the city’s Airport Advisory Commission said the Transportation Security Administration is “seriously understaffed” and “unable to pay a competitive wage.”
“Agents are refusing to move to Austin [and] are resigning,” Eugene Sepulveda wrote in a series of tweets.
Sepulveda declined an interview with KXAN on Monday. Austin-Bergstrom officials directed all questions regarding the TSA to the federal agency.
Patricia Mancha, the Texas spokesperson for the TSA, said she was unable to provide current staffing numbers in Austin for security reasons, but reiterated the agency is hiring local security officers, a lengthy process that take anywhere from six weeks to several months.
“One of the unique challenges that Austin faces, as I don’t have to tell you, is that the city hosts lots and lots of national and international events,” Mancha said.
Mancha said like other busy airports, the agency will often bring in additional volunteer staffing to Austin when requested by the airport’s federal coordinating officer.
The TSA is currently looking to fill part-time and full-time officer positions at Austin-Bergstrom, according to its jobs website. Part-time pay starts at just under $20 per hour with full-time salaries beginning at around $41,000 per year.
Mancha said the agency does not help with relocation costs for employees moving from another city or state, but does offer a $500 signing bonus and another $500 bonus after the completion of 6 months on the job. She said TSA employees also see cost of living adjustments like other federal workers.
As KXAN has reported, an MIT study recently found a single adult needs to earn about $55,000 a year to “live comfortably” in Austin, and that’s after taxes.
Elexis Franklin doesn’t work for the TSA but has been working at the airport since moving to Austin from Arkansas back in January.
Franklin said so far, she likes it , though there is no denying, this is a pricey place to call home.
“Compared to where I’m from, yes, very much expensive,” she said.