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"Stewart commission backs aviation tax exemption"

Saturday, December 3, 2011


Stewart commission backs aviation tax exemption


The Middletown (NY) Times Herald-Record


Description: Top Photo

The Stewart Airport Commission believes giving aviation a tax break could add about 100 jobs at Stewart International Airport, shown earlier this year.

STEWART AIRPORT — Efforts to grow passenger service have stalled in recent years, but maybe Stewart International Airport can have better luck boosting its general aviation business.

That point was made by members of the Stewart Airport Commission this week as they voted unanimously in favor of a resolution urging state lawmakers to pass the New York Aviation Jobs Act.

The act would exempt the purchase of general aviation aircraft from state sales tax.

General aviation includes private charter service such as that used by business executives, medical emergency and law enforcement aircraft, flight training and tourism and recreation activities.

Several neighboring states, including New Jersey and Connecticut, already give similar tax breaks.

Fritz Kass, speaking on behalf of the New York Aviation Management Association, told the commission the change could mean at least 100 new jobs initially at Stewart, and eventually 500 or more.

A state economic development study last year said aviation contributes $50 billion a year to the state's economy, based on numbers from 2009. Stewart alone is responsible for $750.7 million of that, and the area's other airports also make sizeable contributions to the area's economy.

Supporters say the jobs act would boost those numbers and keep businesses from relocating to states that give the exemption.

The legislation has been passed several times in the Senate — most recently on June 23 — but has gotten bogged down in the Democrat-controlled Assembly.

Its sponsor there, Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo, D-Endwell, said the measure's budgetary impact has been the major stumbling block. She and other supporters have tried to make the case that it will generate payroll taxes and other revenue that will more than offset the lost sales taxes.

Lupardo said she and other supporters first will try to get Gov. Andrew Cuomo to include the change in his budget next year, which she called the ideal solution. If not, they'll make another run at getting legislative approval.

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