The Tucson Airport Authority board on Tuesday gave airport officials the go-ahead to take legal action against Hertz Corp. for underpayment of nearly $600,000 in rental-car business fees.
The board's action does not preclude reaching a settlement with Hertz, said Bob Elliott, board chairman.
Hertz has paid $26,240 of the disputed amount, according to a statement released by the Airport Authority.
The authority said that an audit it performed found that Hertz had underreported revenue from Aug. 1, 2002, to Dec. 31, 2005, and that due to that underreporting, it owes the authority $593,410.
Rental-car companies are required to pay the airport "privilege fees" based on their revenue.
Hertz legal counsel and the Airport Authority staff are trying to negotiate a resolution without resorting to litigation, according to the statement.
A spokeswoman for Park Ridge, N.J.-based Hertz said the company does not comment on ongoing legal issues.
A representative of Hertz who was originally headed to Tucson for meetings that begin today changed her travel plans and arrived a day earlier after the board invited her to listen to a discussion of the issue and possibly answer questions, said Hertz spokeswoman Paula Rivera.
But no discussion took place, as the board decided during its closed executive session to move the Hertz issue onto the panel's consent agenda, essentially removing it as an item for discussion.
"We placed it on the consent agenda because we felt it really dealt more with day-to-day operations," Elliott said. "It was just to give Bonnie (Airport Authority CEO Bonnie Allin) the right to do whatever is necessary regarding the situation, whether it's litigation, a settlement or other action. We basically said, 'Bonnie, handle it.' "
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