The debate over user fees has calmed somewhat since the initial release of the 2013 budget that wants to include them. While user fees will likely become more of an issue as the actual passage of the budget comes up, it is important to look at what other options there may be in place of user fees.
At the Hilton Head Airport in South Carolina they were able to create a solution to prevent user fees but still increase revenue for the county. The specific numbers of the deal can be found in this article from IslandPacket.com. What I like about the situation is that the parties involved were able to get together to find a mutually beneficial solution.
That is the problem that I have with user fees in general: supporters seem to think that user fees are a quick fix for a problem that is much more complicated than just money. They are not willing to put forth the time and effort to come up with real solutions, they just want more money.
This solution may not work at other airports, but if the airports, FBO’s, and cities/counties would all just sit down and work together they could come up with systems that would provide the necessary funds without overburdening anyone. Of course we must also consider the FAA and federal government, but they should be no different. Instead of looking for a quick fix for a long-standing problem, do some work and come up with a solution that everyone can be okay with.
Few will argue that there are not financial concerns when it comes to aviation in general, and air traffic control in particular, which should also mean that people can be reasonable when it comes to developing solutions. Like most government programs it likely needs to be a tightening of belts along with an increase in revenue, but what we definitely don’t need is a short-term fix for a long-term problem.