Senator Kane: Waterbury-Oxford Airport economic zone advances [Waterbury Rep-Am]

April 20, 2011

Waterbury Republican-American
Story as it appeared in the Waterbury Republican-American on April 20, 2011

A bill that proposes to establish an economic development zone around Waterbury-Oxford Airport continues its ascent through the legislature.

The legislation got off the ground in the Commerce Committee, and the Transportation Committee voted unanimously Tuesday to keep it moving.

Sen. Robert Kane, R-Watertown, said the unanimous vote Tuesday shows momentum is continuing to build behind the Oxford bill. He represents the town, and is a leading supporter of the bill.

The bill proposes to replicate a development zone around Bradley International Airport that was enacted last year.

The 2010 act extended tax breaks and other incentives to encourage business development around the state’s main airport.

The Commerce Committee bill proposes to extend to Oxford the same tax exemptions and corporation business tax credits that apply to the Bradley zone.

The breaks and incentives would be offered to manufacturers and other specified businesses that develop or acquire property in the zone.

The legislation will not only benefit Oxford, but the neighboring towns of Southbury and Middlebury as well, said Rep. Anthony J. D’Amelio, R-71st District. All three towns support the legislation. It also has the backing of Waterbury lawmakers.

“New and expanded businesses will bring good jobs in and benefit the entire state,” said D’Amelio, who represents part of Waterbury and all of Middlebury.

Rep. David K. Labriola, R-Oxford, voted Tuesday for the airport bill in the Transportation Committee. Like D’Amelio, he said the legislation will promote economic growth and create sorely needed jobs.

“There is a lot going on in Oxford,” Kane said.

He singled out plans to build a $33 million hangar at Waterbury-Oxford Airport. Oxford officials have said the hangar project would create 300 permanent jobs, plus 300 construction jobs

Key Air, which leases most of the state-owned airport, is planning to build the new hangar. The company has operated air charters, hangar rentals, fuel sales and other services at the state-owned airport.

Kane is worried that proposed taxes on aircraft and aircraft repairs could threaten the project. Gov. Dannel P. Malloy included the tax proposal in the two-year, $39.9 billion budget plan that he proposed in April.

Kane said he is hoping the final budget does not include the taxes.

Malloy is proposing to allow municipalities to tax aircraft at a statewide rate of 20 mills. A mill equals $1 for every $1,000 of assessed value. The governor is also recommending repeal of a sales tax exemption on repairs to small aircraft.

The proposed changes are intended to diversify local tax bases and supplement state and municipal budgets. The administration estimates the property tax on aircraft will raise $4 million, starting in the 2013 fiscal year. The repeal of the sales tax exemption would raise $100,000 a year.

The president and CEO of Key Air and other representatives of the aviation industry warned of dire consequences if the governor’s tax changes are enacted.