South Bend Airport to Raise Fuel Fees to Pay Higher Tax Tab

SOUTH BEND -- South Bend Regional Airport hopes to raise its fuel fees to soften the blow of the controversial Circuit Breaker tax law.

The St. Joseph County Airport Authority has scheduled a public hearing on the matter for 11:30 a.m. April 19, said John Schalliol, the airport's executive director.

The proposed ordinance would raise the fuel flowage fees the airport charges general aviation aircraft from 2 cents per gallon to 7 cents per gallon.

"The reason is, we're looking at increasing revenues wherever we can," Schalliol said.

The Circuit Breaker, which will cap property taxes for property owners starting in 2008 and businesses beginning in 2010, will cost the airport about $200,000 per year, Schalliol said.

Higher fuel fees alone won't bridge the gap -- the hike will give the airport $87,000 per year, compared with the $61,000 per year the airport currently receives -- but they will help, Schalliol said.

The increase won't affect airlines, Schalliol said, just general aviation aircraft, including the host of private planes that stream into the airport each fall for Fighting Irish home football games.

"This is the only way we make any money off the football traffic," Schalliol said.

Although Schalliol said he would have preferred to increase fees gradually, he noted that they've remained at 2 cents for decades.