February 14, 2013
By Dan Namowitz
AOPA is analyzing the impact of a proposed aviation fee restructuring in Idaho that would raise rates for pilots to increase revenue for the state’s Aeronautics Division by an estimated $153,500.
House Bill 117 would eliminate the state’s current $6 annual pilot registration fee, while House Bill 118 would increase the aircraft registration fee from one cent per pound of aircraft maximum gross weight to three cents per pound. There would be a $20 minimum registration fee, and a $600 maximum registration fee per aircraft.
These proposals, which were filed at the request of the aeronautics division, are intended to provide funds to resume search-and-rescue and pilot safety programs, and help pay for maintenance at airports that do not receive federal airport improvement aid, officials said.
Both bills are set for hearings Feb. 20 in the House Transportation and Defense Committee.
According to a fact sheet distributed by the aeronautics division, the annual $6 pilot registration fee does not cover the cost of pilot safety training, which has stalled the state’s volunteer search pilot network. Additional revenue would be invested in airport maintenance—with specific regard to backcountry strips.
The aeronautics division estimated that the restructuring would add about $60 to registration costs for a typical Idaho pilot flying a small single-engine aircraft, and $250 for operators of larger multiengine aircraft.
As AOPA advocates for general aviation’s interests in state legislatures, a continued priority is to hold down the costs of flying as much as possible, while assuring that adequate resources exist to protect and develop the aviation infrastructure. As AOPA discusses the bill with state policy makers, the association will work to ensure that alternatives to proposed cost increases are thoroughly vetted during the lawmaking process.
“We recognize the importance of adequate funding for aviation infrastructure, and certainly support safety programs like the search-and-rescue program in Idaho. Accordingly we can’t and don’t subscribe to a hardline, no tax- or fee-increase policy,” said Mark Kimberling, AOPA director of state government affairs. “However, it’s also our responsibility to our members to carefully assess this issue to determine the merits of even modest fee increases, because, as we all know, the rising cumulative cost of flying continues to stymie GA’s growth and recovery. That’s why AOPA will continue to work with state officials to not only vet the current proposal, but also raise possible alternatives that would meet legitimate funding needs with minimal impact on the wallets of all our members in Idaho.”
AOPA has already heard from several Idaho pilots who have expressed concerns about the current proposals with some suggesting alternative solutions. AOPA will work to ensure that these concerns are addressed.
Dan Namowitz is an aviation writer and flight instructor.
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