AOPA works to save airports, eliminate use tax in Florida

April 17, 2008

AOPA works to save airports, eliminate use tax in Florida

By AOPA ePublishing staff

While many pilots and AOPA members took in the airshow at Sun ’n Fun in Lakeland, Fla., last week, the association’s government affairs staff was hard at work, meeting with state and local officials and airport support groups.

AOPA and Airport Support Network volunteer Paul Rooy met with the New Smyrna Beach mayor and city council to discuss the value of New Smyrna Beach Municipal Airport and recommend best practices for managing and mitigating noise complaints. The mayor agreed to AOPA’s suggestion that a group of interested party representatives be formed to sort through the airport noise and encroachment issues. Mayor Sally MacKay will have two town hall meetings, April 23 and May 3, to take public comments on the airport to assist the new group in their task.

In light of that meeting, the airport advisory board voted on April 14 to rescind a resolution it had passed approving residential development about 500 feet from the end of Runway 2/20.

“The mayor said the airport was here to stay, but we aren’t going to relax until we are 100 percent certain that the threat to New Smyrna Beach airport is gone,” said Heidi Williams, AOPA senior director of airports. “We’ll continue to work closely with our ASN volunteer and the city to develop a plan that protects the airport and addresses concerns raised by the surrounding community.”

In an effort to prevent the problems at New Smyrna Beach from happening elsewhere in Florida, AOPA met with two airport support groups for Venice Municipal. Pilots are concerned that some members of the city council support measures that would shorten the secondary Runway 4/22, reduce airport capacity, and impose onerous operating restrictions. The groups are working to educate the mayor and city council and plan to show AOPA’s Local Airports: Access to America on public TV.

“This is the type of proactive stance every airport support group needs to take,” said Heidi Williams, AOPA senior director of airports. “The earlier local pilots get involved in issues, the more likely there will be a positive outcome.”

AOPA staff was also in Tallahassee promoting legislation that would prevent out-of-state aircraft owners from being hit with a 6 percent use tax for bringing their new aircraft to Florida within six months of its purchase. Prior to Sun ’n Fun, the state tried to clarify its tax policy, but AOPA is working the legislative angle to fix the problem for good.

April 17, 2008