We are under siege and although we seemed to have averted a crisis last week it has returned. Our airport is unusual in that it lies on the border between California and Nevada, with the cost of operating born solely by the former and the revenue disproportionately going to the latter.
The casino corridor on the Nevada side has the casinos, larger hotels, restaurants and theaters with the lesser shops and restaurants in California. All business development in town is controlled by a bi-state agency, the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, and this includes the airport. Our airport manager is limited in his ability to generate revenue and operate a business by an agency that has no oversight save it’s own under the general guidelines of ‘ protecting the environment’. He has worked hard at trying to work within it’s guidelines and has made some progress.
Without airport businesses we are limited in revenue to GA traffic along with very limited commercial interests. Our airport manager is convinced that we need an operating tower not only for safety in our particular mountain location but also to improve our ability to secure the return of commercial air service. The airport is owned by the City of South Lake Tahoe which appointed an airport commission to make recommendations about the airport operation. At the last airport commission meeting we were able to argue against additional fees for both local and transient pilots. The airport manager took this recommendation to the city council and they have sent him back to the airport commission to establish fees which will probably include landing fees and tower operating fees in addition to our already incredibly high fuel and rent fees. These fees will be implemented May 28th, the date of the next city council meeting, unless we can document for the city council how unpopular and detrimental these fees will be.
The City of South Lake Tahoe, like the State of California, is facing funding difficulties and our airport association is sympathetic to this. As users we are not able to support the entire burden of operating the airport. The city spends a share of it’s budget to operate the airport and pays part of the tower operation not paid by the FAA. We have been unable to this point to prove to the city the value of this asset and what it returns to the city in revenue versus the cost of operation.
We are asking for your help. If you have used the Lake Tahoe Airport we would ask you write to the address listed and let the mayor and city council know your opinion of added use fees. If you have had experience at airports which have added these fees, let us know how they have affected the volume of operations. This airport tower is federally subsidized as a contract tower through the FAA and because our current operations have dropped below certain thresh holds the FAA has lowered it’s contribution. Much of this pressure could be eliminated if the federal government would review our modest tower operating budget and agree to 100% funding in the interest of safety. We would greatly appreciate your views on trying to keep our airport open. Please send comments to:
Mayor Tom Davis
City of South Lake Tahoe
1052 Tata Ln.
South Lake Tahoe, CA 96150
And in regards to tower funding to:
Contract Services Branch
Harold E. Thomas, Manager
800 Independence Ave., SW Room 635
Washington, DC 20591
If you may be inclined to include letters to your representatives, addresses may be obtained by logging on to www.congress.org . Thank You.