The line is open | Arkansas Blog

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The line is open

Posted By on Tue, Feb 15, 2011 at 4:19 PM

Your comments welcome.

But one last reflection on Little Rock National Airport. City lobbyists have begun distributing financial information to House commitee members about receipts at Security Airport Parking, on which airport director Ron Mathieu has imposed a confiscatory fee increase for dropping off parking customers at the terminal. Legislation that has passed the Senate would block collection of the fee. This sharing of private information might be legal (restaurant gross receipts are public information in reporting burger tax revenues), but owner Drew Baker was a little surprised.

To recap: Baker says he was paying a fee equivalent to 3 percent of gross revenue until March 2010, when the airport jumped it more than 100 percent to 6.5 percent. It will go to 7 percent in March, 7.5 percent in March 2012 and 8 percent in March 2013. In all, that's a 167 percent tax increase because, well, just because. Tea parties have started over less. (The total bill will be in the $100,000 range annually at the top end.) The airport clearly wants to drive Security out of business, or at least into a forced sale of the property to the airport. Do you want a monopolist that's already increasing rates against declining demand in control of ALL airport parking? It's a factor worth considering when the House committee considers Senate-passed legislation to block the airport's actions. Mathieu, by the way, apparently doesn't plan to appear to take committee questions. Mayor Mark Stodola, who Baker said discussed the parking operation's franchise fee with Mathieu during their famous Parisian dining adventures on the airport tab, apparently plans to fade the heat.

* Also, Joe Ball of Hot Springs, who once directed the Upper Southwest Arkansas Regional Solid Waste Management District in Nashville, was sentenced today in Texarkana to six months in prison and six months home confinement for defrauding the district of more than $750,000 through bogus payments by the landfill and recycling operation. He's made restitution.

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