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Report Urges Increase in Fees at L.B. Airport

September 17, 1987|ROXANA KOPETMAN | Times Staff Writer

LONG BEACH — Citing a need to keep the city's airport from operating in the red, a city staff report to be presented to the Airport Advisory Commission today will recommend increasing fees by up to 40%.

The fee increases would affect everything from public automobile parking to landing charges for commercial airliners.

The report, written by the city's Public Works Department, offers two plans. One would increase fees and rates by 40.2%. The other plan says the airport could raise its fees by just 21.5% if it were willing to seek federal funds.

However, the City Council agreed last year to avoid accepting further federal funding because of fears that the dollars would weaken local control of the airport.

Raymond T. Holland, city public works director, said the fee increases are needed partially to offset the operational cost of additional commercial flights that a federal court ordered last year.

Airlines had sued the city in 1983, saying the local noise ordinance set arbitrary flight limits. A court last fall ordered Long Beach to accept eight additional flights daily. Those flights will cost an extra $1.1 million next year, and the pending court feud between Long Beach and the airlines has added an unbudgeted $200,000 for the litigation, the report says.

The fee increases also are needed to pay for a variety of improvements, which have been put off for years, said Chris Kunze, public works administrative officer. One major improvement is a $5 million taxiway extension.

People who park at the Long Beach Airport would see the $6 daily parking fee jump to $10 under the first plan and $9 under the second plan. The monthly parking permit would double, from $15 to $30, under both plans.

Under the plan that would increase rates and fees by 40.2%, the landing fee, which varies, would more than double. Non-commercial planes based at Long Beach now paying $100 annually would pay $300, and a surcharge on fuel pumped at the airport would jump from 7 cents to 18 cents a gallon.

Under the plan that would increase rates and fees by 21.5%, the suggested increases are considerably lower because 80% of proposed airport improvements would be subsidized with federal dollars.

Concerns about federal intrusion may no longer be warranted, Kunze said, because the Federal Aviation Administration did not implement a proposal which would have given the FAA greater control over the number of flights going into an airport that had accepted federal money.

Councilman Edd Tuttle said he "took exception to the staff minimizing" the city's obligation to the federal government should it begin accepting grants again. In the past 30 years, the federal government paid for $12 million in airport improvements but has say-so on $1.4 billion in airport real estate, Tuttle said. "And that's a bad deal for the city."

The first plan would generate an additional $4.2 million annually and the second plan would provide $2.3 million annually, Holland wrote in the report to the City Council.

The council on Tuesday referred the report to its Airport Affairs Committee and the Airport Advisory Commission, which will schedule public hearings after the presentation by the Public Works Department this afternoon. By Dec. 1, the issue will go back to the City Council, which has final say on the proposals.

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