City Council evaluates airport fee proposal; New Cedar City Fire Chief sworn in

Cedar City Recorder Renon Savage presents the oath of office to Fire Marshal Mike Phillips as he was sworn in as the new fire chief at Wednesday's City Council meeting, Cedar City Utah, Jan. 7, 2014 | Photo by Holly Coombs, St. George News

CEDAR CITY — Mike Phillips was sworn in as the new Cedar City Fire Chief Wednesday at the Cedar City Council meeting and a proposal for changes in the Cedar City Regional Airport fee schedule was presented.

Airport fee schedule proposal

Public Works Director Ryan Marshall presented a proposal to increase a fuel flowage fee from seven cents per gallon to 10 cents per gallon, as well as increase the flight school operator-landing fee from $1,750 per month for up to 25 helicopters to $5,000 per month, with an additional $200 per month fee for each additional helicopter over the 25 allowed.

The proposal was presented as a way to help bring fees in line with airport expenses.

Upper Limit Aviation, a flight school that teamed up with Southern Utah University in August of 2013 to provide an aviation program for students, operates at the airport and will be impacted by the new fees. Upper Limit Aviation President Sean Reid expressed his concerns before the council.

“It’s a huge point of retention for us,” Reid said. “At Upper Limit, we feel we have an unfair tax on us.”

Upper Limit Aviation operates at multiple airports, including Salt Lake City International and Memphis International Airport, and Reid said Cedar City’s airport is the first to charge his business with a landing fee.

“If I had had this landing fee when I first started my business, I would not have been in business,” he said.

Reid said the $5,000 fee would wipe out his whole business as he operates about 35 helicopters and plans to bring that up to 70 total. Reid showed concern for the fueling fee as well and made a point that he could find a piece of land to operate and become a fixed-base operator, but would prefer not to do so.

Chamber of Commerce Representative Scott Jolley spoke before the council and said the increased fees would present economic discrimination. He said a fuel flowage fee and landing fee is a double taxation.

The proposal was brought before the Airport Board on Dec. 17 and was voted in favor with a 4-3 vote. During that meeting, Marshall had indicated that Upper Limit Aviation had indicated it may do self-fueling no matter what decision is made on the fee schedule.

At Wednesday’s council meeting, the City Councilmen expressed concern to know the costs that ULA is dealing with over all and asked for the statistics from the last year to be given to them before they make a decision on the proposal in the Jan. 14 meeting.

A new fire chief

There were no empty seats as the crowd gathered to see Mike Phillips, who served as the Cedar City Fire Marshal, be sworn in as the new fire chief, replacing Paul Irons who retired from the position in December. Phillips has served with the Cedar City Fire Department for 20 years.

He thanked the city leaders for the opportunity to be in the leadership position within the Fire Department.

“I appreciate the support from the staff, council and mayor,” Phillips said. “I especially appreciate the support from Chief Irons and the firemen, because without those firemen I would just be an individual person so I appreciate all the support. Thank you.”

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