Letter: Stop Subsidizing Lebanon Airport

To the Editor:

A letter to the editor (“Airport’s Staggering Subsidies,” Nov. 21) effectively illustrates how much we, as federal taxpayers, are subsidizing commercial airline flights at the Lebanon Airport. We also subsidize the airport with our city taxes. Even with federal subsidies, the airport runs a deficit, which we pay for. The budget for 2013 is based in part on the hope that revenues will be received that were not received last year. In addition, when the airport accepts federal money — which it plans to do if passenger trips reach 10,000 this year and proposes to do to pay for an expansion of the airport — Lebanon is compelled to agree to keep the airport operating for 20 years from the date of each such federal payment. Thus, if revenue hopes are not realized and revenues drop dramatically, Lebanon must still operate the airport for 20 more years, thus further increasing the burden on Lebanon taxpayers. This burden will grow substantially if the federal government decides to reduce the federal deficit by eliminating subsidies for airlines like Cape Air, thus ending all commercial air travel from Lebanon and all revenue to the airport from such commercial travel.

A basic tenet of good planning is “hope for the best, but plan for the worst.” The Lebanon Airport does not operate on this sound principle. The airport budget and expansion proposals are gambling with our money. Since the beneficiaries of these deficits, subsidies and substantial economic risks are a tiny fraction of the population of Lebanon, a fraction that is not willing to travel 1 1/2 hours to Manchester or two hours to Boston, we as Lebanon taxpayers should ask ourselves this question. “How much of our hard-earned money are we willing to give to someone who has the resources to pay the high fares from Lebanon Airport rather than travel 90 minutes to Manchester?” For me, the answers is “none.” If commercial air travel is important for some Upper Valley residents, why shouldn’t they pay the full cost of that convenience?

Anthony Z. Roisman