News

  • April 17, 2017 9:15 AM | Bob Minter (Administrator)

    NEWS RELEASE

    TENNESSEE AVIATION ASSOCIATION TAKES LEADTO RESOLVE AIRPORTS SYSTEM FUNDING ISSUES - Nashville – April 17, 2017

    The Tennessee Aviation Association, representing the state’s system of airports, is taking the lead to explore potential solutions to lingering funding questions. TAA’s Executive Director, Bob Minter said, “This funding problem is extraordinarily complex, much more so that many realize. In order to find a long-term solution a number of technical areas must be researched.  Among them are changing fuels technologies which will diminish the consumption of fossil fuels near-term. He went on to say, “We (TAA) are seeking proposals from firms that understand aviation, the technologies and regulatory environment, government, tax structures, other funding practices. Equally important is selecting a firm that has impeccable credentials and integrity. We are not seeking a political solution. The product of this effort will serve as a guide to stakeholders and our governmental leadership so that we can arrive at the best possible options for Tennessee.”

    Tennessee’s 30-year old airports funding system was compromised in 2015 when a large user of aviation fuel in the state sought legislative relief that resulted in placing a “cap” the sales tax obligation of high volume users. The legislature established the cap at $10 million per year. It is important to note that since that time, fuel prices have plummeted and the 4.5% sales tax on aviation fuels has resulted in extremely low deposits into the Transportation Equity Fund (TEF), dedicated to development, improvement and maintenance of the state’s system of airports.

    Included in the “cap” legislation was the formation of a Task Force to explore solutions to the resultant funding shortage anticipated to be between $20 & $30 million  a year based upon fuel prices remaining the same. The Task Force met a number of times and reported to the General Assembly when it convened in 2016. The legislature then passed an Aeronautics Economic Development Fund measure, which has not yet been funded. The group also made other recommendations that are continuing to be studied.

    When the 110th General Assembly convened in early 2017, another commercial user of aviation fuel filed a measure requesting a cap of $3 million/year arguing that it would make their financial planning more predictable. That filing has instigated widespread opposition from Tennessee’s airports, the administration and others including the user that received the higher cap in 2015. TAA strongly believes that the General Assembly should have the best a truly comprehensive understanding of this issue before it grants any more tax exemptions.

    For additional information contact: 

    TENNESSEE AVIATION ASSOCIATION

    (615) 452-3696

    info@tnairports.org


  • March 30, 2017 11:13 AM | Bob Minter (Administrator)

     FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE March 29, 2017                                                                    Memphis, TN - The University Aviation Association is pleased to announce the relocation headquarters office from Auburn, AL to Memphis, TN. The UAA Board of Trustees reached an agreement with the Memphis Shelby County Airport Authority to occupy approximately half of the second floor of the main terminal at the General DeWitt Spain general aviation airport.

    “The new city is particularly appealing, as Memphis is a visible hub for aviation and a more easily accessible city,” said UAA Executive Director Dawn Vinson. “Relocating to ​the terminal building better positions staff to support the more than 100 colleges and universities that are members of UAA. A centrally located city allows UAA to expand programming and member services while strengthening our connection with the general aviation community.“

    According to UAA President Dr. Daniel Prather, “Offering a physical office location in Memphis is designed to accommodate both members and vendors in the most efficient manner possible. Hosting an on airport office is critical to further strengthening UAA’s ties to the industry we love.” 

    The new headquarters is now located at 2787 N 2nd Street, Memphis, TN. UAA is planning an open house for all members to tour the new offices, which will coincide with the Memphis Air Show in early May.

    The University Aviation Association is the voice of collegiate aviation to its members, the industry, government and the general public. Through the collective expertise of its members, this nonprofit organization plays a pivotal role in the advancement of degree-granting aviation programs that represent all segments of aviation.

    Today, UAA has more than 525 members, including 105 accredited colleges and universities from the U.S., Canada, Australia, Europe and Asia.The organization and its members are poised to meet the everchanging needs of the aviation industry and address the challenges of the 21st century.


  • March 27, 2017 10:14 AM | Bob Minter (Administrator)

    SENATE & HOUSE TRANSPORTATION COMMITTEES

    HOUSE TRANSPORTATION COMMITTEE

    Chairman Doss (70) – rep.barry.doss@capitol.tn.gov  

    Lawrenceburg and Pulaski Airports

    Rep. Alexander (39) - rep.david.alexander@capitol.tn.gov  

    Winchester Airport

    Rep, Carr (12) - rep.dale.carr@capitol.tn.gov 

    Gatlinburg-Pigeon Forge Airport

    Rep. Tim Hill (3)  - rep.timothy.hill@capitol.tn.gov  

    Tri Cities & Mountain City Airports

    Rep. Keisling (38) - rep.kelly.keisling@capitol.tn.gov   

    Jamestown Airport

    Rep. Sanderson (77) - rep.bill.sanderson@capitol.tn.gov   

    Union City Airport, Dyersburg Airport

    Rep. Sexton (35) - rep.jerry.sexton@capitol.tn.gov   

    Tazewell Airport

    Rep. Travis (31) - rep.ron.travis@capitol.tn.gov   

    Dayton Airport

    Rep. Teri Lynn Weaver (40) - rep.terri.lynn.weaver@capitol.tn.gov   

    Smithville & Gallatin Airports

    Rep. Windle (41) - rep.john.windle@capitol.tn.gov 

    Livingston, Jamestown & Gainsboro Airports

    Rep. Jason Zachary (14) - rep.Jason.Zachary@capitol.tn.gov

    Rep. Johnnie Turner ( 85) – rep.johnnie.turner@capitol.tn.gov

    Rep. Eddie Smith (13) - rep.eddie.smith@capitol.tn.gov

    Rep. Courtney Rogers (45 ) – rep.courtney.rogers@capitol.tn.gov

    Rep. Bo Mitchell (50) - rep.bo.mitchell@capitol.tn.gov

    Rep. Bill Dunn (16) - rep.bill.dunn@capitol.tn.gov

    SENATE TRANSPORTATION COMMITTEE

    Chairman Bailey (15) - sen.paul.bailey@capitol.tn.gov  

    Crossville, Gainsboro, Livingston & Sparta Airports

    Vice Chair Beavers (17) -  sen.mae.beavers@capitol.tn.gov  

    Lebanon, Smithville, Lafayette Airports

    Sen Niceley (8)  - sen.frank.niceley@capitol.tn.gov  

    Hawkins County & Tazewell Airports

    Sen. Bowling (16) - sen.janice.bowling@capitol.tn.gov   

    Tullahoma, Sewanee, Winchester & McMinnville Airports

    Sen. Stevens (24) - sen.john.stevens@capitol.tn.gov   

    Union City, Humbolt, Benton Co., Gibson Co. Paris & Carroll Co.

    Sen. Tracy (14) - sen.jim.tracy@capitol.tn.gov

    Murfreesboro, Shelbyville, Lewisburg & Fayetteville Airport

     *Sen. Richard Briggs (7) - sen.richard.briggs@capitol.tn.gov

                            {Part of Knox County)

    *Sen. Becky Duncan Massey (6) - sen.becky.massey@capitol.tn.gov

                            (Part of Knox County)

    *Sen. Jeff Yarbro (21) - sen.jeff.yarbro@capitol.tn.gov

                            (Part of Davidson County



  • January 26, 2016 12:06 PM | Bob Minter (Administrator)

    *Preface – All blogs tagged “MY OPINION” are just that! They do not represent an opinion of others and are not a statement or position of the Tennessee Aviation Association.

    MY OPINION* - “Tennessee Airports New Best Friend”

    When the General Assembly passed PC #462 last year, which established an Aviation Task Force to explore how to deal with the funding reduction involving the Transportation Equity Fund, I was skeptical. Task Forces in this context are usually “paper tigers” and this one may still be but I think most of us who have attended the Task Force meetings in preparation for the current legislative session are impressed with the gentleman who served as its Chairman.

    Tennessee’s Economic & Community Development Commissioner, Randy Boyd approached the task of chairing the Task Force with zeal. He visited a bunch of general aviation airports in advance of the meetings and engaged those who manage them. He’s a bright guy with a great personality… easy to talk with, and apparently has a refreshingly open mind. He was genuinely interested, wanted to learn all he could and those he spoke with were justifiably impressed. He brought that same enthusiasm to the Task Force meetings and used his staff to do some helpful and necessary research to assist the process. I really think this gentleman “gets it” in terms of the importance and value of our system of general aviation airports in Tennessee, and the absolute need to fund them properly. Arguably, he should, as our state’s chief jobs builder and new industry salesman. And, I have not detected an ounce of arrogance in Commissioner Boyd! Refreshing!

    One of my pet “peeves” is a palpable arrogance within governmental bureaucracies these days. And it isn’t all from Washington. Some seem to believe that they are the center of a particular industry universe. When I “served” in state government we viewed ourselves as “a service agency” to local governments who needed help improving, maintaining and developing their local airport. We weren’t arrogant at all; we were “partners”! I am a strong believer of “government of and by the people” starting at home! Those “serving” as governmental employees need to be reminded that the operative word is “serving”!

    While I am venting, another of my peeve’s is that when the legislature or when a state agency needs industry information (aviation in our case) they tend to turn to each other… to another state governmental entity. They apparently believe that the sought after expertise resides within these government departments. That is often a seriously misguided theory. It may be born of simple laziness because it is easier that seeking information from people in the industry who aren’t in the State Telephone Book. To be fair, that may be our fault. We need to be more connected with our government; the legislature and the agencies we have to work with. We need to make them aware of who to call when they need information and when they do call, we need to make sure we provide the facts, not opinion!

    I hope that one positive result of the Aviation Task Force will be better connections and communications with the legislature and our own bureaucracy. There is a lot of aviation industry expertise in Tennessee and I believe Commissioner Boyd knows that. I honestly believe that he is truly “aviation’s new best friend”. Hopefully, the Governor will listen to him. I want to believe he will!

  • January 06, 2016 11:00 AM | Bob Minter (Administrator)

    TAA and the TENNESSEE ASSOCIATION OF AIR CARRIER Airports have sent the following letter to the Chairman outlining our position on the issues and items under consideration in advance of the final meeting. Here is that letter. It will provide the details of what is currently on the table for our membership.

    December 30, 2015

    Randy Boyd
Commissioner, Department of Economic and Community Development State of Tennessee - William R. Snodgrass Building – Tennessee - Tower 27th Floor - 312 Rosa L. Parks Avenue Nashville, TN 37243-1102

    Via Email: Randy.Boyd@tn.gov

    Dear Commissioner Boyd:

    The Tennessee Association of Air Carrier Airports (TAACA) and the Tennessee Aviation Association (TAA) thank you for your leadership of the Aviation Funding Task Force. We also appreciate the time and dedication provided by the legislative leaders and aviation stakeholders represented on the Task Force.

    TAACA and TAA would like to provide the following comments related to four points discussed at the December 8th meeting of the Task Force:

    1. Current Aviation Related Tax Collections Being Redirected to the Transportation Equity Fund

    At the initial meeting of the Task Force on October 22, 2015, TAACA proposed the Task Force identify all current aviation related taxes imposed by the State. The intent was to evaluate the potential to redirect funds generated from current taxes paid by aviation users. The redirected funds would partially replace the funding lost as a result of the aviation fuel tax cap passed under 2015 Tennessee Laws Public Chapter 462 (SB982/HB1147).

    At the December 8th meeting of the Task Force, the Department of Economic and Community Development reported back the following information related to this item:

    State sales tax annually from taxpayers who purchased airplanes $ 2,853,425 (5 yr. average) Sales tax annually from other aviation related sales tax accounts $ 2,100,286 (5 yr. average)

    Total $ 4,953,711 Additionally, the TAA identified the following taxes that are currently being paid on aviation fuel:

    a.Tennessee Motor Fuel Tax ($0.01 per gallon)

    b.            Tennessee Environmental Fee ($0.004 per gallon) Total

    $ 3,000,000 (estimated annual collections) $ 1,200,000 (estimated annual collections) $ 4,200,000

    It is estimated these four current taxes generate $9,153,711 in annual tax revenue. These current taxes, which are generated by aircraft owners and operators, are not currently being used to reinvest into our statewide system of airports.

    Commissioner Randy Boyd December 30, 2015 Page 2 of 3

    Once the tax cap resulting from 2015 Public Chapter 462 is fully implemented at the maximum cap amount of $10.5 million in FY 2019, the resulting loss of revenue to the Transportation Equity Fund (TEF) will be approximately $20 million annually. This amount of funding loss is based on a comparison to FY 2015 aviation fuel tax collections.

    The four sources of tax revenue identified above would restore approximately one-half of the airport improvement funding lost as a result of the aviation fuel tax cap. TAACA and TAA realize this current tax revenue is being used in other areas of the State budget and there may be some opposition to reallocating this tax revenue to airport development. However, redirecting these current aviation user based taxes to the TEF would restore essential funding that ensures a competitive airport system in Tennessee. Reallocating this funding to the TEF may encounter less opposition than a new form of taxes or fees.

    These points were briefly discussed during the December 8th meeting of the Task Force. After reviewing all options discussed at the December 8th meeting, TAACA and TAA feel the potential to redirect this current aviation generated tax revenue should receive the highest consideration by the Task Force.

    2.Pooling of TEF Funding with Other Transportation Funds At the December 8th meeting of the Task Force, there was discussion of pooling TEF funds with other transportation funds and allowing TDOT to direct the use of the pooled funds to the highest priority statewide transportation projects (surface, airports, etc.). TAACA and TAA would be adamantly opposed to pooling aviation generated tax revenue with other transportation funds and attempting to compete for funds from the pool each year based on some yet unknown system of prioritization. The airport community does not feel airports would be able to consistently compete against the much larger budget demands of surface transportation projects. The risk of not recovering adequate funding from a pooled transportation fund outweigh the potential benefits of airports having access to a larger pool of transportation funds.

    3.Moving the Aviation Fuel Tax from a Percentage Based Tax to a Fixed Cents Per Gallon Based Tax There was discussion at the December 8th Task Force meeting of moving the aviation fuel tax from the current 4.5% based tax to a new fixed cents per gallon tax methodology. Given the limited amount of information that has been compiled on this option and the limited time remaining for the Task Force to generate the legislatively mandated report by February 1, 2016, a move to a cents per gallon tax may pose substantial risk to the long-term funding potential for TEF airport improvement funds. An equivalent cents per gallon methodology would require significant research and forecasting. The price of oil and the resulting price of aviation fuel is at an extreme low. It is unlikely the cost of fuel will continue to drop over the long-term. There is greater potential the cost of fuel will rise over the next ten years. Therefore, locking in a fuel tax at a fixed cents per gallon would prevent the potential growth of tax revenue as the price of fuel increases. A cents per gallon rate methodology would need to be set at a significantly higher base rate than the current equivalent of a cents per

    Commissioner Randy Boyd December 30, 2015 Page 3 of 3

    gallon based on the 4.5% tax rate of current fuel prices. TAACA and TAA are not in favor of an effort to move to a cents per gallon tax methodology without having the time and detailed data necessary to accurately forecast the impact of such a move.

    4. TDOT Future Transportation Infrastructure Funding Initiatives Should Include Funds for Airports

    As TDOT evaluates the future needs and funding mechanisms of the State’s transportation infrastructure, airports should be considered essential intermodal assets in the State transportation system. Tennessee’s Airports bring drive traffic into Tennessee from at least 10 adjacent states and allow flights to directly connect Tennessee to points around the world. Our airports, large and small, support Tennessee’s commerce, tourism, and industry. It would be reasonable to dedicate a portion of any future TDOT funding mechanism to keep these intermodal assets safe, secure, modern, and able to successfully compete with other states and regions of the globe. Whether it is a portion of a new gas tax initiative, or any other infrastructure funding mechanism developed by TDOT, now is the time to make sure airports are included in the funding plan and not left behind in this effort.

    The Task Force and the General Assembly must remember that passage of 2015 Public Chapter 462 dramatically impacted a long-time system that had successfully supported airports and air transportation in Tennessee. A responsible approach toward restoring much of the funding lost must be a priority. Our system of airports, both commercial service and general aviation, is a transportation asset that cannot be taken for granted, nor minimized in terms of its importance to Tennessee’s economy. Relegating Tennessee’s airports to funding that is essentially a maintenance budget is detrimental to Tennessee’s future and gives away a competitive advantage currently held by the State.

    The Tennessee Association of Air Carrier Airports, the Tennessee Aviation Association, and Tennessee’s entire aviation community stand ready to work closely with the Tennessee Department of Transportation, the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development, and our legislative leaders to ensure Tennessee’s airports have the funding necessary for maintenance, safety, security, capital improvements, and the ever-changing regulatory environment.

    Thank you for your consideration of these comments. We respectfully request these comments be shared with the members of the Task Force in advance of the next Task Force Meeting.

    Sincerely,

    Patrick W. Wilson, A.A.E. Scott A. Brockman, A.A.E.

    Representing the Tennessee Association of Air Carrier Airports

    Jo Ann Speer John Black

    Representing the Tennessee Aviation Association

Tennessee Aviation Association, Inc.  -   395 Devon Chase Hill, #101   -   Gallatin, TN 37066
Office & Fax: (615) 452-3696      e-mail: minter.bob@gmail.com          

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