The Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport Commission on Tuesday approved a proposed $12.7 million operating budget for the airport for 2012 - an increase of 7.29 percent over this year’s budget.

The proposed budget funds 80 positions - two fewer than this year. The jobs eliminated are custodial positions that are vacant.

The proposed budget also includes $65,160 to provide 3 percent step increases for eligible employees.

The airport receives revenue from a variety of sources, including landing fees and terminal rent charged to the airlines; concession sales; parking and the lease of land and buildings on the grounds.

Airport Director Anthony Marino said the fees charged to the airlines vary depending on the number of passengers.

Commissioner Andrew McCandless questioned whether airport managers are looking for ways to trim costs and reduce fees charged to the airlines.

He noted that the proposed budget projects $4.8 million in airline revenue for 2012, a 22 percent increase from the $3.9 million budget this year.

“I’m challenging you to hold it to something more reasonable than 22 percent,” McCandless told Marino.

Marino responded that the airport does a good job of holding down costs but said that some things, such as the rising cost of fringe benefits for employees, are beyond its control.

The airport’s budget is subject to the approval of the Metro Council, which will vote on the spending plan when it adopts an overall budget for the city-parish government in December.

In other matters, the commission received a status report from a landscape architect on the directional signs at the airport.

that guide people to parking areas, the terminal, rental car returns and other parts of the airport.

Dana Brown of Brown and Danos Landdesign said she thought complaints about the legibility of the signs could be resolved with some minor adjustments.

Commission Chairman Jim Ellis said the signs need to be “readable and informative” for visitors and the ones now don’t meet the test, adding that they are too small.

Brown defended the design and size of lettering on the airport directional signs, which she said is the same size as street signs. But she said she understood the concerns and will work on ways to address them.