NASHUA — City officials are backing a proposed bill that would repeal certain aircraft registration fees — a proposal intended to help boost Nashua’s economy.
“New Hampshire finds itself in a unique position,” said state Rep. Don LeBrun, also a city alderman. “All the surrounding states have either eliminated or drastically reduced their (aircraft) registration fees.”
According to LeBrun, it could cost a corporate jet up to $300,000 to register in New Hampshire, but that same jet could register in Massachusetts for closer to $300. In addition, he said Massachusetts has done away with its sales tax on aircraft and aircraft parts.
“We have to come in line with the states around us,” said LeBrun.
Although Green Mountain Coffee Roasters was originally at the negotiating table to possibly open its new Keurig headquarters along the seacoast, LeBrun said it eventually opted to take its business to Burlington, Mass., instead — along with its 10,000 jobs.
“That was the reason for filing the bill,” he said of House Bill 124, which is still being considered by legislators.
In its original form, the state was set to lose about $1.2 million — 75 percent to the state general fund revenue and 25 percent to the state aeronautical fund — if the certain aircraft registration fees are repealed as proposed.
However, LeBrun told the Nashua delegation and the Nashua Board of Aldermen during a joint meeting this week that the bill has since been amended.
“We have found a way to make it revenue neutral,” he said, adding the state will not lose anything under the newly proposed terms of the bill.
“Few of us fully appreciate the economic impact the (Nashua) airport has in terms of companies who are here, as well as the jobs that are there,” said Alderman Mary Ann Melizzi Golja. “… Increasing traffic at the airport is something that is certainly important for our community.”
Brian McCarthy, president of the Board of Aldermen, said that New Hampshire is not typically receiving the $300,000 revenue from a corporate jet’s registration fee because aircraft owners traditionally wait to purchase a jet that is 10 years old and then beat the hefty registration cost.
“We currently actually have a fairly large number of jets operating out of Nashua to our great economic benefit,” said McCarthy. At one time, he said there were 21 jets at the local airport.
Nashua Airport has helped attract several companies to the Gate City, according to McCarthy, stressing the importance of making it easier for aircraft to register in the Granite State.
Under the modified bill, a 10-year plan will be implemented so that the registration fees will decrease throughout the next decade, at which time no aircraft registration fee will be required once the 10 year phase is completed, explained LeBrun.