South Lake Tahoe (TVL) Newsletter

This e-mail will be a replacement for an official newsletter this month. As many of you are aware we have at least one major battle to fight very soon and can use your help. You can expect an announcement very soon for an upcoming meeting in early June and we’d love to have you there for that as well. Let me get to the most important issue first with a general summary. Your city run airport is under fire, again, for budget concerns. The city council looks at this $50+million facility as nothing more than a financial drain. In a city budget approaching $19 million, the airport’s $600,000 is viewed as a ‘subsidy’ and until the benefits of the airport are quantified we will be fighting an uphill battle. The airport manager is prevented from operating the facility as a business but is expected to bring in revenue somehow, and that’s where we come in as one of the few revenue sources.

Mike Dikun spends an inordinate amount of time trying to figure ways to make this work. Many suggestions were brought to the last airport commission and they recommended some to the city council. The city council, less affected by reality, blew off these recommendations and has mandated fees to be collected from the rich pilots. Understand that as a part of the national airspace infrastructure we as pilots will never be able to support the facilities and airspace we use. That is why it is a national system. When you spread the cost to users; passengers, freight, mail, air ambulance, fire fighting, ag spraying, etc.; the economy of scale helps take into account the national benefit and improves the picture.

Without the benefit of airport business parks, Mike sees two pressing needs for the airport. One is a joint powers authority that requires those that benefit from the airport to share in the cost of operation. This would include both El Dorado County and Douglas County along with the City. Second, the airport tower is needed to attract commercial service. Although we, as local users, may debate the need for air traffic service in the basin, the more important issue is the continuing viability of this airport. The federal funding was at 60% fed / 40% local until our numbers dropped below a certain level of operations. The federal funding shifted to 23% fed / 77% local. The city fought the 40% and will not fund the 77%. The federal review will be in September and unless they change their formula or grant an exemption, the tower will close at that time and this battle will be over. Mike is working hard at trying to extend the city funding until that time. Closing the tower will relieve the city of less than half their obligation but is one more indication of how little they value this asset.

City Council meeting, Tuesday, May 18th, 9 am. We must be there in force, even willing to speak, to let them know that imposing landing and tower fees will effect not only local users but discourage visits and have a negative impact. Be there!

A few other notes. Our group is helping sponsor a Mountain Flying Clinic on June 19th in cooperation with the CAP and the Reno FSDO. The latter is allowing this to be a FAA Wings program. The cost is $50 for participants and we could use some help in promoting it and maybe being involved. Please call the airport office if you’d like to help and tell you friends. We will be doing another Young Eagles Day in early June and we will need some EAA volunteers again, either to fly kids or help in administration. We are also involved in the set up of the AirFest, scheduled for September 4th. We will need people to help police the flight line and possible static displays and/or fly-bys. Volunteering for that will get some food and a t-shirt. What more could you need and it should be great. We still need a shed for the bikes. Anyone there to organize a work day? We’ll get bodies to help.

There’s bound to be something missed in this. Thanks for taking the time and the interest in our airport and your organization.

Don McCracken