ATTENTION BUSINESS COMMUNITY: McCarran Airport increases fees 90 percent

By Ed Uehling
Las Vegas Tribune
An ordinance submitted by McCarran Airport (LAS) to the Board of County Commissioners at their January 19, 2021 meeting nearly doubled the fee (from $20 to $38 per round trip) charged to airline passengers who choose Las Vegas as the place they want to spend their travel money.
Passenger traffic at LAS has fallen more than 50 percent. When that happens to most businesses, they choose to lower their prices to attract more customers. Just imagine your business or any business in Las Vegas losing half its income and then doubling its price. Would you be so obtuse as to think that your business would have the same number of customers, let alone more? LAS is a business. It is owned by Clark County and mandated to operate as a business — a $250 million business that affects every aspect of the $60 billion tourist industry and virtually every one of its 1.2 million households.
Nevada law (Nevada Revised Statutes — NRS) requires all local government entities to prepare a Business Impact Statement (BIS) in which it “must make a concerted effort to determine whether the proposed rule will impose a direct and significant economic burden upon a business” (NRS 237). Did the airport’s “concerted effort” reach your business? Probably not. There are three reasons for this:
1) The airport apparently does not expect any decrease in the number of passengers. That possibility is never discussed in its descriptions of its meetings, in its BIS, in the Staff report of the agenda item, or in the ordinance itself. This is dangerous. The brilliant past marketing efforts of Las Vegas and LAS itself have not gone unnoticed by the thousands of destinations that would LOVE to bite off a chunk of our market. Costs play a significant role in the decision-making of most travelers and it seems risky to assume that the number of tourists will not be reduced. Out of the dozens of layers of Las Vegas’ tourism, the ONLY one which will not experience a corresponding loss is LAS, since it will get 100 percent of the benefits, while everyone else combined suffers revenue losses totaling a hundred-, a thousand-, or even a million-fold those relatively tiny dollar gains grabbed off by LAS. The BIS is designed to prevent the government from deciding winners and losers. Fairness demands that one of the involved parties should not be making this decision.
2) LAS convinced the Clark County Business Licensing Department on July 25, 2013, to exempt LAS from its obligations under NRS 237 as written in the County Code. If or when the BCC approved this exemption is unclear, but, for sure, the County did not get it removed from the State Law.
3) LAS, like every other county department, is really controlled by its employee unions. Despite the reduction in passenger traffic from 4 million/month to 1.8 million/month, the airport has not laid off, furloughed, riffed, or fired a single employee. Effectively, the employee unions have canceled common sense and economic reality. Our elected officials piously proclaim that “we are all in this together.”
Are your employees AVERAGING the $1,000 per WORKDAY in salary and benefits? The employees of at least two county agencies do. You can be assured that every other public union aspires to copy that “success” for them and debacle for you and the county’s other two million residents. In plain terms, neither the state nor the county gives a damn about you, your business, or your employees. They have made it clear that YOU are supposed to shut up, get back in your cage, stay there and still pay whatever fees and taxes THEY wish to impose on you.
One might conclude at this point that I blame the airport for harming business and the standard of living of everyone living in Clark County. In fact, I am more SAD than angry.
—SAD that not one elected leader has articulated even the rudiments of a vision. Nevada has all the best resources (weather, freedom-loving and service oriented people such as performers/communicators, land, water, tourists, and gold), which, if properly combined, could enable it to surpass Qatar and Macau in GNP/person wealth. Our leaders can’t see beyond the public employee union representatives, who control them.
—SAD that we still haven’t turned COVID and our vaccination program into a huge asset to the state by immediately vaccinating all front-line tourism workers—from airline attendants to Uber drivers and waiters—so that Las Vegas becomes overnight the safe haven for a world starving for fun and entertainment. While the Nevada Resort Association (NRA) is talking about such a plan, one is forced to question — based on recent events — whether that program will be available only to resorts.
—SAD that our leadership is so blinded by prejudice that it still hasn’t developed a plan to jumpstart the economy. My suggestion of such a plan is to combine the opening of the two yet unopened hotels (Virgin and Resort World) with two of the most affluent traveler markets (Gay and Chinese), both of which share a special affinity for Las Vegas.
—SAD that our students are discouraged or even prevented from embracing our tourist industry by misplaced criticism of the industry and by failing to incentivize foreign student exchange and language programs. More than 100 schools in Utah are now Mandarin immersion schools and Utah is barely touched by China — unlike Nevada, whose gold is purchased by and whose gaming revenues are frequently rescued by Chinese.
—SAD that our government’s colossal failures thus far, despite spending approximately $20 billion, only motivate them to demand more.
Only by freeing the citizens and businesses of Nevada by providing OPPORTUNITIES, not MONEY stolen from future generations, will the state succeed in getting out of the hole government has created.
Incompetence and bankrupt thinking should not be rewarded, but it —will. ETC., ETC., ETC.
In the meantime, we must stop the public unions from destroying businesses and from using the power of the airport to feed themselves on the backs of legitimate businesses and their workers. Don’t lie down like the airlines and their employees and get slaughtered. State law requires public entities to consider all businesses that are affected by its new charges to passengers. It has a letter from one airline supporting the new fees: Southwest Airlines. Las Vegas is the second biggest source of customers for Southwest and shortly after writing this letter, Southwest let furloughed or otherwise let go of 6,800 employees. Is it a coincidence that 6,800 private employees lose their jobs, while LAS protects a relative handful: LAS hasn’t let go of one employee and is using this rate increase to feed itself at your and your employees’ expense right here in Las Vegas?
Become active during the next 30 days: The clock started yesterday (January 19, 2021), the day that the BCC passed the LAS ordinance.
Stop feeling helpless and inform others of this one opportunity to let the BCC and public know the truth. You have invested time and money into your business; the jobs of your employees are legitimate and important. Don’t let a public business (when times are great) act like a government bureaucracy when times get tough and destroy your business and jobs rather than make the tough decisions needed in tough times.
The deadline is February 17 for you and your friends to file Exhibit G (PETITION OBJECTING TO ADOPTION OF RULE) of the Nevada State, “Business Impact Statements” and found on page 3 of this newspaper.
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