A request to reduce fuel surcharges at the Melfort airport has been sent back to a committee for further review.
Chad Vanderbyl, owner of Fly’n Dutchman Ag, an aerial spraying business, spoke to Melfort City Council this week. Vanderbyl says the city’s airport fuel surcharge of .15 cents per litre is too high, especially as the cost of fuel continues to go up.
Vanderbyl and the city entered into a 25-year agreement to lease hangar space at the Melfort airport in January. Vanderbyl would like the city to implement a one-time, annual fuel fee and says other communities with small airports have lower fees, or charge per plane or hangar, making the costs easier to bear.
“We pay a lease fee, we pay per airplane, and we pay a fuel surcharge as well,” he said. “I’m not looking for it to be free… I understand it costs to run the airport. I’m just looking for it to be somewhat reasonable in comparison to the rest of the province.”
Vanderbyl’s request was sent to the city’s works and utilities committee for further review. Doug Terry, city councillor and chair of the works and utilities committee, said the airport fuel surcharge brings in revenue for the city, and Vanderbyl was aware of the surcharge before the agreement was put into place. The city also has a rebate program in place, so Vanderbyl can get some of those funds back, he said.
Terry said the city has recently added a new double-tank system to provide jet fuel, and is putting money toward an airport lighting upgrade at a cost of more than $50,000.
“We were very clear with him on the understanding that with his operation, even though he still had a hangar there, the operational requirements were to buy fuel from the airport,” Terry said. “That surcharge is on there to supplement the cost of operations and maintenance of that airport. It’s solely maintained by the city, although it’s located in the rural municipality, the taxes that the hangar owners pay, they pay to the rural municipality.”
Vanderbyl hopes he will soon be able to access cheaper fuel for his business. He says he spends between $30,000 and $40,000 each year on fuel.
“I’m just hoping the city would give me a one-time fee and allow me to purchase my fuel as I need to,” he added.
On Twitter: @CharleneTebbutt
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