Wasilla Airport users face potential fee increases
WASILLA, Alaska (KTUU) - Registered users of the Wasilla Airport could see their monthly bill increase in the near future after the city’s public works department — under the guidance of the Airport Advisory Commission (A.A.C.) — passed a resolution recommending price hikes for hangar lease lots, airplane tie-downs as well as transient parking.
The move comes after the City of Wasilla paid $122,065 to break even in operating costs in 2022 and $133,450 the year prior. According to the commission’s chair, James Grogan, the airport has been operating in the red for years and the increases have been long overdue.
“We haven’t raised our fees in 20 years, so we need to get the fees up to where they should be,” Grogan said.
The fees users are charged help offset the operational costs which totaled $266,000 last year with only $143,935 generated in revenue.
The proposed increases would cost users an additional 4 cents for hangar lease space, $5-$25 per tie-down, and would double the amount of daily transient parking costs which are currently set at $5 per day. The increases would approximately generate an additional $71,000 in revenue yearly.
A number of users attended the Mar. 16 regular A.C.C. meeting to speak during the public comment period, most of which opposed the measure.
“It isn’t a demand problem you have, it’s a supply problem,” one user said to the commission during the meeting.
All 155 tie-down spaces the airport has available are currently rented out, while an additional number of airplane owners sit on a waitlist to get a space when they come available. A number of attendees testified that the burden for more revenue should fall on the city who has yet to develop additional land surrounding the airport. A real estate broker, who also serves as Certified Flight Instructor, argued that the city could potentially get developers to eat the cost of building infrastructure because the demand is so high.
According to the Public Notice put out by public works on Mar. 3, city officials “are working to complete projects in the Airport Masterplan to grow the Wasilla Airport.”
“If we can expand it to over 6,000 feet we can start doing larger aircraft. Go up to the slope and get all that business, cargo, you name it — with maintenance teams coming out here as well,” Grogan said. “We just want to build the airport and make it really financially feasible and a huge asset to Wasilla.”
Grogan said the airport has enough land to support an expansion, and that it could potentially offer air space relief for Anchorage while also serving as a safety net for an area that only has one road option to the state’s largest city.
In the Public Notice, the Public Works Department also cited opportunities for Federal Aviation Administration infrastructure funding, which will more likely be approved if the airport can obtain operational self-sufficiency.
The commission did approve the resolution but will need Wasilla City Council’s approval before it can take effect. The resolution will be read as an Informational Memorandum at the next city council meeting.
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