ST. GEORGE — The newly formed Airport Advisory Board of the City of St. George met for the first time at the St. George Municipal Airport Wednesday for preliminary information and to start discussing airport issues, including a possible name change.
While the board has been in the works for some time, with some members having been asked to join months ago, the board was finally fully formed and ready to meet Wednesday under the direction of Mayor Jon Pike and other members of the city council.
Members of the board include people from across the community who know about the clientele the airport serves and about aviation in general.
Josh Bevans, one of the founders of Steamroller Copies, is the chairman of the board. Members of the board will serve for terms ranging from one to four years, at which point they can be reappointed.
While the board does not have the authority to make decisions for the airport, it will be an advisory source for decisions the St. George City Council will make.
After the board members introduced themselves and reviewed pertinent bylines, airport manager Rich Stehmeier briefed the board on basic airport goings-on.
The biggest issue members discussed, which Stehmeier brought up, was the possibility of a name change for the airport. He said the proposed change would be altering the airport’s name from St. George Municipal Airport to St. George Regional Airport.
He said this change would bring more credibility and business to the airport, but it could take some costs upfront, as the airport would face stricter regulations.
Among other changes Stehmeier discussed was a possible increase in the passenger facility fee across all publicly controlled airports. This change would increase the fee from $4.50 per passenger, which it has been at for almost 20 years, to $8.
The increase has been hotly discussed in the aviation community, as many airlines do not want to have to pay the money. Stehmeier said the fee goes strictly to airport maintenance, but since maintenance costs have increased significantly, the fee should also increase.
He also talked about building a fence at the airport that would provide additional parking space for events at the airport and for the Western Sky Aviation Warbird Museum.
Stehmeier brought up the possible addition of a car washing station at the airport, which would mostly benefit the rental car companies. Stehmeier said since they are one of their biggest financial supports, this could be an important addition for them.
He also mentioned the fact that some planes from Canada had been inquiring about flying into the airport, so he has been researching the possibility of becoming an international airport, but nothing official has been done on that front.
The board’s meetings are open to the general public. Members will meet again in June to explore the airport name change more extensively.
Information about board meetings will be posted online on the city’s website at least 24 hours prior to the meeting.
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