The Garden City Telegram
4/17/2013
OPINIONS AND COMMENTARY

Flying funds

At local airport, new fees would be put to good use.

So-called hidden fees — whether in phone, utility or other bills — have a way of annoying most any consumer.

They're particularly frustrating when the folks paying the bills see little explanation as to why such charges are necessary.

Ideally, more companies would spell out where the extra dollars go when tacked onto consumers' bills.

Garden City officials have shared as much in a proposal to add a $4.50 passenger facility charge on each passenger ticket at Garden City Regional Airport.

The passenger facility fees would help fund airport improvement projects. Such fees are common elsewhere, but haven't been implemented at the local airport.

Commercial service airports can assess a fee between $1 to $4.50 per passenger to fund Federal Aviation Administration-approved projects. The revenue may be used to pay for all or part of the allowable costs of an approved project; pay debt service or financing costs associated with issuing bonds; be combined with federal grant funds for a project; or, help pay the non-federal share of project costs funded under federal grant programs.

For example, Garden City has 15 completed Airport Improvement Program projects totaling $770,628. Revenue from the passenger facility fee — expected to generate an estimated $87,000 per year — would be used to reimburse the city for its past share paid on those projects.

Before implementing such a fee, the city must publish public notice on the change, and give citizens 30 days to comment. From there, the plan would need approval from air carriers and the FAA.

We would expect it to pass with flying colors.

Of course, that's not to say everyone should blindly accept what some might consider a hidden fee. What helps in this instance is understanding how the dollars would be used to help fund needed, ongoing improvements of a valuable community asset.

A safe, modern airport helps foster economic viability, and must be part of a community's plan to survive and grow.

While we may not like forking over a bit more to fly, it helps to know the funds would be a worthwhile investment in the local airport.