JUNEAU, Alaska — Alaska is proposing a new aircraft registration fee to partially offset the cost of maintaining the state’s 240 rural airports.

The proposed fees would be $150 for a private plane and $250 for a plane used for business, the Juneau Empire reported Wednesday.

The fees are expected to bring in between $1.3 million and $1.4 million for the Department of Transportation branch that oversees the state’s airports, Statewide Aviation.

The branch has an annual operating budget of about $40 million, a quarter of which is covered by the state’s aviation fuel tax and leases for hangars and other airport spaces.

The remaining $30 million comes from the state’s general fund, and the fee is intended to close some of the gap, said Richard Sewell, aviation policy planner for the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities.

The advisory committee that guides Statewide Aviation has called for increases on fuel taxes to boost revenue, said Tom George of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots’ Association, who is on the committee. But that tax avenue remains stalled in the Legislature’s finance committees.

“From what we know at the moment, that’s our best shot,” George said.

The registration fee would bypass the Legislature because it’s proposed as a regulation, which concerns Republican state Rep. George Rauscher.

“Going forward, once one administrative department starts using this method for recovering costs . where do we go? Is every department going to come up with this idea now?” Rauscher said.

The registration fees are not yet confirmed. Residents have until Jan. 5 to comment on the proposal.


Information from: Juneau (Alaska) Empire, http://www.juneauempire.com