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Plan Would Use Airport Fees for City Services

March 26, 1992|ANDREA FORD

City Councilwoman Ruth Galanter introduced a set of proposals Wednesday that she said could raise as much as $37.4 million annually for essential city services from increased landing fees at Los Angeles International Airport.

But before such a plan could be implemented, voters would have to approve changes in the City Charter, and the U.S. Congress would have to relax federal rules that prohibit transfers of airport revenue to non-airport uses.

Nonetheless, Galanter was undeterred. She argued that it is critical that city officials find alternate sources of revenue and ease the effects of cutbacks made to offset a $120-million budget deficit. The airport "is a tremendous source of revenue . . . that we have ignored for decades," she said.

Her plan would raise fees from 48 cents per gross 1,000 pounds of aircraft to the national average of $1.80. LAX is the nation's third-busiest airport but has the lowest fees of any major facility.

The fee is set by agreements negotiated by the airlines almost four decades ago and are set to expire at the end of this year. Under Galanter's plan, the money generated by a higher fee would be used for such things as police and fire protection.

Galanter's is the latest in a series of ideas designed to gain revenue from the airport. Last December, Mayor Tom Bradley asked the Department of Airports to report to him on short-term ways for the airport to contribute money directly to the city.

Clifton A. Moore, the department's executive director, said Wednesday that he, like Galanter, has proposed charter changes and changes in the federal rules to allow more flexibility in transferring money to the city. But he said raising the airport's landing fees is not as simple as Galanter suggests and would require agreement from bond holders in addition to the federal government.

Last month, City Council President John Ferraro called for selling LAX, a move he said that would give the financially strapped city $2 billion.

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