November 11, 2010
By Dan Namowitz
Prompt political action by aviation supporters in Anchorage, Alaska, has prompted municipal officials to drop a proposed doubling of aircraft registration taxes from the 2011 budget. The mayor has called for negotiating rates with pilots next year.
As AOPA reported Nov.4, Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan had presented a $435 million budget that would have doubled registration taxes on 2,431 aircraft in the municipality, from $75 to $150 for single-engine aircraft, and from $125 to $250 for twins.
The plan would have increased revenue by $210,000. The tax has been in effect since 1995, and rates have not been adjusted since inception.
On Nov. 9, approximately 70 AOPA members attended a meeting of the Anchorage Assembly to voice their opposition.
AOPA Manager of Airport Policy John Collins wrote to Anchorage Assembly Chairman Dick Traini, urging that the increase be set aside.
“This increase is discriminatory and capricious as aircraft owners are being asked to pay double what other owners of non-commercial transportation do in registration taxes,” he said in the Nov. 8 letter. “Additionally, aircraft owners are not afforded the same reduction in taxes based on the age of their aircraft that is given to owners of non-aircraft transportation.”
The response to the proposal from pilots, and a City Treasury Division’s recommendation, led Sullivan to pull the budget item. Discussions on the tax will be set next year, Collins said. The registration fee will remain the same for 2011.
Collins credited local pilot groups, including the Birchwood Airport Association, EAA Chapter 42, and the Alaska Airman's Association, working with AOPA Airport Support Network volunteers, with mobilizing aircraft owners to reach out to their Assembly members on the tax plan. He thanked ASN volunteers Rob Stapleton of Birchwood Airport, Jim Cieplak of Merrill Field, and Dee Hanson of Lake Hood for providing information on funding and services at their airports. He also thanked AOPA member Bill Starr, who chairs the Assembly’s budget and finance committee and serves on the Anchorage Economic Development Committee, for guidance on key discussion points and contacts.
"Chairman Starr's input shows the benefit of having pro-aviation elected officials in key positions when we need to advance an advocacy position," Collins said. “AOPA looks forward to working collaboratively with the mayor, the Anchorage Assembly and the local aviation community. We applaud the mayor's decision to take a fresh look at the registration fee schedule.”
Dan Namowitz is an aviation writer and flight instructor. He has been a pilot since 1985 and an instructor since 1990.
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