Influential members of Oregon’s aviation community have thrown their support behind proposed legislation that would provide about $8.5 million in additional revenue for airports annually by increasing taxes on jet fuel and avgas.
Currently, jet fuel is taxed one cent per gallon; the levy on avgas is nine cents. An estimated $8.26 million of the additional revenue projected from the tax increases would come from jet fuel sales, according to a presentation by AOPA member Mary Rosenblum, president of the Oregon Pilots Association.
Her presentation makes the case that Oregon has arrived "at the tipping point" where declining financial resources no longer can finance infrastructure requirements. The organizations recognize that without increased funding, the state’s Department of Aviation will be unable to come up with Oregon’s 10-percent match of federal grants to improve Oregon’s 28 state-run airports.
The state agency’s low level of funding has already taken a toll. Aviation supporters point to Crescent Lake State Airport being closed since 2013 because surface damage caused by erosion has gone unrepaired, said David Ulane, AOPA’s Northwest Mountain regional manager.
Tax proceeds would be distributed equally among five aviation programs, to help fund the state’s match of FAA airport improvement grants; fund improvements at general aviation airports not eligible for FAA funding; help finance statewide aviation economic development; develop small community air service; and provide an allocation for emergency management.
"We need support of all communities who desire air service and aviation improvements to maintain and grow the commercial and economic benefits of aviation statewide," said Oregon Aviation Industries, a membership organization of more than 400 aviation-related businesses in Oregon and the surrounding region.
The bill has been assigned to the House Committee on Revenue.
AOPA and Oregon’s aviation community are monitoring a contingency measure, Senate Bill 269, which would increase the pilot and aircraft registration fees.
"Oregon’s aviation department will need some measure of additional revenue to safely maintain and keep open their 28 airports, so this bill is being considered in the event HB 2075 does not move forward," Ulane said before traveling to the state capital, Salem, for a March 9 reception with lawmakers and aviation industry participants to discuss aviation funding.
"Members in Oregon need to know that all of their existing aviation taxes and fees are allocated to aviation uses in the state, but meanwhile, the existing revenue stream is not adequate to meet the needs of the state’s airports long term," he said.