Aircraft Numbers at Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport Take Off After Tax Rate Cut
September 6, 2016
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  • A sharp drop in the city’s tax rate on aircraft has brought dozens more planes to Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport.

    The combination of a lower rate on more planes hasn’t yet generated a boost in total tax collections, though City Manager Jim Bourey thinks that will come in the next year or two.

    “It takes time,” he said.

    So far this year, the owners of roughly 35 planes have decided to park them at the airport to take advantage of the 76 percent drop in the city’s tax rate approved by the City Council last year.

    Commissioner of the Revenue Priscilla Bele reported 24 aircraft moved to the airport as of Jan. 1, while Jessica Wharton, the airport’s director of air services and marketing, said another 10 to 12 have moved since.

    Tax rate cut boosts aircraft numbers at Newport News/Williamsburg Airport
    Newport News Williamsburg Airport has seen a big jump in general aviation planes since the city cut its personal property tax rate for aircraft.
    So far, they seem to be pricier planes, too.

    Bele said the 24 new arrivals she and her staff assessed at the start of the year have a value of nearly $11.6 million — not far off the $18.9 million value for the 98 planes that the new arrivals joined.

    Tax revenue for the fiscal year, which ended June 30, was down from the year before, declining 17 percent to $290,681, however.

    The reasons are a bit complicated. Bele bills aircraft owners twice a year, in December and June.

    The first bill was based on 101 airplanes, assessed at $20.4 million as of Jan. 1, 2015, at the old $2.10 per $100 of assessed value. It yielded $214,432.

    The second bill was based on 122 aircraft at the airport as of Jan. 1, 2016 — the 24 newcomers and 98 old-timers, since two moved away over the course of the year. That bill, based on the new rate of 50 cents per $100, yielded $76,289.

    So far, most of the new planes are owned by individuals, but the airport expects some corporate jets owned by firms based in the area might move over before long, Wharton said.

    Meanwhile, Atlantic Aviation, which operates a terminal used by corporate planes and offers a variety of services for aircraft owners, is planning a new hangar, Bourey said.

    And he said a major aviation-based business is considering relocating to the airport.

    That business would be enough to boost city tax collections to a level at or above what they were at the old rate, he said.

    “It’s not just aircraft taxes, either,” he said. Bringing more and higher-value planes to the airport boosts rental payments to the airport and sales of aviation fuel.

    “This is an economic development effort,” he said.

    Ress can be reached by phone at 757-247-4535.