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County approves new charge for airport rental cars

By CECILIA BROWN

Journal Staff Writer

MARQUETTE — The Marquette County Board of Commissioners passed a resolution Tuesday to implement a customer facility charge for rental cars at Sawyer International Airport, effective Aug. 1.

“It would be a $2.50 fee, assessed for every car, every day,” Airport Manager Duane DuRay said. “The rental car agencies would be required to collect the fees (from customers) and on a monthly basis, they would pay into the airport and these funds would be set aside for strictly rental car agency improvement.”

The customer facility charge, which is collected at other airport rental car agencies across the nation, would generate funds for the county to hold and use to “improve, operate and maintain facilities at the Airport utilized by the Car Rental Companies and their customers,” according to the resolution passed at Tuesday night’s meeting. Commissioners Bill Nordeen and Joe Derocha were absent.

“This is a very useful way of generating revenue that would help us and it’s used across the nation with other airports to facilitate improvements,” DuRay said.

He said airport staff evaluated the fees at other airports in the region before proposing the $2.50 charge.

“We looked at a handful of other airports and it varied from $1 all the way up to as high as $7 and $8 per rental car,” he said.

Commissioner Karen Alholm asked DuRay if the $2.50 per car, daily charge was typical of the airports that had been surveyed.

DuRay said they found Detroit Metro Airport, which rents several thousand cars a day, set the charge at $1, while smaller airports in Lansing, Flint and Grand Rapids have fees ranging from $2 to $3. He said there’s a huge range in the fee amounts across the nation, but “the majority of them were staying relatively low, in the $2 to $3 range.”

About $5,000 a month would be generated by the charge at Sawyer, DuRay said.

Commissioner Stephen Adamini said he believed some rental car agencies were already collecting the charge, but not reimbursing the county, which DuRay confirmed.

“The customer facility charge was being collected through an agreement among the rental car agencies themselves to offset their expenses, primarily relating to the car wash operations,” DuRay said.

To address this issue, cease and desist letters were sent to the agencies, DuRay said, and airport officials began pursuing the creation of an approved customer facility charge, or CFC, program at the airport.

“We informed them that we’re going to pursue this to create an approved CFC charge and then collect it for appropriate expenses,” DuRay said.

Officials from the county, airport and rental car agencies will have a say in what specific improvements are made with funds collected from the charge.

“These improvements would be decided by the Marquette County administrator, in conjunction with the airport and the rental car (agencies) to facilitate the improvements that all parties would deem as necessary for their operation,” DuRay said.

The funds could be used for projects such as a fuel farm for rental cars or improvements to the car wash, which DuRay says are ideas they’ve been considering.

“This will be a very necessary funding source,” DuRay said, noting the funds will help the airport provide needed improvements to rental car facilities and services.

Cecilia Brown can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 248. Her email address is cbrown@miningjournal.net.

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