Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Clayton County to delegates: Stop Federal Aviation Administration from diverting fuel tax revenue

Clayton County must stop much-needed tax dollars from being diverted from the county due to changes in a federal aviation policy, officials from the county’s seven cities told the county’s legislative delegation Wednesday night.

The delegation heard a variety of wish lists items from officials representing county government, education and courts as well as civic, political and ministers’ groups. But the overriding theme of the evening centered around a Federal Aviation Administration ruling that mandates changes the way taxes from aviation fuel will be used in the future. The new ruling calls for any taxes collected on aviation fuel to be used for aviation-related projects only and not be dispersed to cities and counties as is the current situation. The policy, which affects airports nationwide, is slated to take effect Dec. 8.

If the policy take effect, Clayton could wind up losing close to $20 million in revenue that is now doled out to the county, its seven cities and the school district, representatives from several cities in the county said.

“(Losing) that fuel tax could be devastating not only to this county but the cities,” Lake City City Manager Chris Leighty told the delegation and an audience of about 70 people gathered at Clayton State University.

With just over a month left in the legislature, the clock is ticking for the Clayton delegation to address the matter.

Clayton is in an unique situation, Rep. Valencia Stovall, chairwoman of the Clayton Delegation, said. Hartsfield Jackson International Airport is in Clayton but it is owned and run by Atlanta.

“The largest losers will be students,” Clayton school board member Jesse Goree said of the FAA ruling.

Stovall said the delegation is planning to meeting with the attorney general, the Georgia Department of Revenue and the Georgia Department of Transportation about the FAA ruling.

The delegation learned of the FAA changes in November.

“We were very upset about it,” Stovall said in an interview after the meeting.

“We’re going to have to take an aggressive approach to coming up with solutions that will be best for Georgia and Clayton,” Stovall said. “It’s going to be a very hard uphill battle to see what other options we’ll have.”

Wednesday’s meeting was the first of two the delegation is using to help finetune its priorities during this legislative session. The next meeting will be Tuesday from at Hearts to Nourish Hope in Riverdale.

The meeting was the first of two the delegation is using to help tweak its priorities during the legislative session. The next meeting will be Tuesday from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at Hearts to Nourish Hope, 640 Ga. Hwy 138 in Riverdale. Hearts to Nourish is a community resource organization.


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