Delta Tax Break Would Clobber Clayton Co., Lawmakers Say

5:37 PM, Mar 16, 2011   |    comments
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There's a figure that's getting a lot of attention in Clayton County these days.

"This will hit us to the tune of $13 million," said Rep. Gloria Tinubu, a Democrat who represents portions of Clayton, DeKalb and Fulton Counties.

The hit comes from a fuel tax break proposed for Delta Air Lines. And the government of Clayton County will absorb it disproportionately, say angry members of Clayton's legislative delegation.

"It's the only county in the state of Georgia that gets affected. The state has a hit. But Clayton County is the only county that takes a hit," said Rep. Roberta Abdul-Salaam (D-Clayton County), leader of the county's legislative delegation.

Clayton takes the hit because Hartsfield-Jackson Airport's concourses, where Delta aircraft are refueled, are all in Clayton County. Airlines that refuel at Hartsfield-Jackson pay fuel tax to the state and Clayton county.

Delta got a fuel tax break in 2005, the year Delta filed for bankruptcy.  "This was done because they were too big to fail and we get that," said Rep. Tinubu.  "But they are no longer in that situation and they should let it go."

But Republican lawmakers want to extend the same tax break for another two years.

"When you've got the largest private employer in the state of Georgia, we need to do what we can to say we appreciate them doing business here," Rep. Jay Roberts (R-Ocilla) told 11 Alive News on March 8.  "We appreciate the fact that they're headquartered here, and we thank them for the jobs that they provide for our citizens."

Rep. Tinubu disagrees.  "Delta doesn't need this money. We do."

Rep. Abdul-Salaam says Delta's own financial reports make the best case for ending the tax break.

"They've got $3.6 billion cash on hand. they've given $330 million in dividends in the last couple of months," she said.  "Why is it that they still need to hurt Clayton County, a county that's already struggling?"









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