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Aviation fee harmful to Alaska communities, businesses

Posted: December 7, 2011 - 12:00am

Your recent article (“Murkowski faults Obama aviation fee,” Nov. 30, 2011) rightly pointed out the huge potential harm of a new user fee tax on businesses and groups that rely on general aviation or small aircraft, particularly for communities throughout Alaska.

Whether its oil and gas exploration, fishing, forestry or access to medical care, general aviation is essential to keeping Alaska communities connected to each other and the rest of the country.

In fact, in Alaska alone, general aviation accounts for about 10,000 jobs and supports about $400 million for the local economy.

Any new “user fee” tax would not only result in more taxes on businesses and a manufacturing industry that have already suffered dramatically as a result of the economic downturn, but would mean a huge new administrative burden on small businesses which would have to keep track of hundreds upon hundreds of new fees.

In fact, while proponents of these new taxes have tried to soften the blow by stating that these new taxes would not apply to all aircraft, the truth is that many businesses across our state would be impacted by this new fee — not to mention the precedent that would be set by taxing every take-off and landing.

In addition, it defies reason as to why our leaders would consider a new tax that requires a huge new bureaucracy within the FAA to assess and collect these new taxes at a time when we are supposed to be reducing government spending.

It is for all these reasons and more that each time Congress has considered user fees, they have decided to keep the existing fuel tax mechanism, which is efficient and proportional to use.

We should be doing everything we can to support our nation’s businesses and manufacturing industry during this tough economic time, not creating new, burdensome taxes on our nation’s smallest businesses and adding senseless new bureaucracy to our federal government.

Mayor Verne Rupright

City of Wasilla

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