OCEAN CITY – Discounts on fuel sales at the Ocean City Municipal Airport were addressed this week by the Mayor and City Council, resulting in approval of the good will practice, but with a few concerns about the regulation of the discounts.
Public Works Director Hal Adkins and Airport Manager George Goodwill presented the concept to the Mayor and Council for their official blessing this week, even though the practice has been going on for over two years now.
Currently, there are two options for purchasing fuel at the Ocean City Airport, through a tanker truck that dispenses fuel into the aircraft for the purchaser, or through the self-fueler, which aircraft owners dispense themselves.
Adkins explained this week that the common practice, at the Ocean City Airport and at surrounding airports, is to offer discounted fuel prices through fuel purchased from the tanker truck.
According to Adkins, the difference between the Self-Fueler and what is provided full service is 20 cents per gallon.
Adkins and Goodrow suggested providing the self-fueler, per gallon pricing, for full service efforts for the following customers and under the following conditions:
— All government agencies, such as but not limited to the Maryland State Police and all branches of the United States Armed Services, i.e. Coast Guard, Air Force, Army Navy.
— The Civil Patrol while on “official” status.
— For “resident businesses” that hold leases, such as flight training school, sightseeing and skydiving.
— At times when the self-fueler is out of service for maintenance or repair.
— At times of maintenance the ramp, which would eliminate access to the self-fueler.
— At times when town-sponsored special events block access to the ramp and the self-fueler location.
— Isolated incidents when providing discounted fuel could be used to foster good will.
“It is not going to have any impact on your FY09 budget,” explained Adkins. “It’s not a major issue but it does go a long way for good will at the airport.”
After reviewing the conditions for offering discounted pricing, the council agreed with all but the last item, questioning how to regulate who receives a discount.
Adkins explained that the purpose of item seven is to allow the airport employees with the option to create good will with customers, the way that a hotel or restaurant allows its staff to do in order to defuse a complaint.
“We feel that giving staff this ‘authority’ is crucial in the development of the airport, and is in keeping with what all other GA Airports do in the region,” said Adkins.
Currently, other general aviation airports in the area practice the same system, with Easton, Bay Bridge, Accomack County, Sussex County and Cambridge all providing the isolated customer good will discount.
Airport employees would be given the “authority” to give the discount under these conditions.
“I see a little bit of a security problem with this. How are you going to tabulate who gets what?,” questioned Council member Jim Hall.
Hall also questioned whether or not the employee in charge of dispensing the gas could in affect pocket the discounted difference.
Goodrow explained that the line attendant does not set the price, so there would be no possibility of pocketing money. Also, the clerk must record the circumstances for the discount on the ticket, which would ultimately be reviewed.
“I don’t recognize, at any level in the city, pricing done at the staff level,” said Finance Director Martha Bennett in opposition to condition number seven.
“I wish that we would be able to work out some parameters with the finance department,” said Adkins.
The council agreed to approve the concept, asking Adkins and Goodrow to return with a modified policy at a future date that would include the concurrence of the finance department.