Rental Car Customers May Foot the Bill for Car Wash & Refueling Facility

A Springfield, Mo. City Council measure would make rental car customers at the Springfield-Branson National Airport pay for a consolidated car wash and refueling facility.

Under the measure, which the City Council will consider April 6, the city would issue up to $9 million in revenue bonds. Rental car customers would pay back the debt through a surcharge.

That surcharge would be over 10 years through a $4.50 per car rental, per day.

All six companies at the Springfield airport currently wash and refuel their rental vehicles at their own shops offsite, near the existing airport terminal, said airport Director Gary Cyr. He added that consolidated car wash/refuel buildings and the funding mechanism are standard at many U.S. airports. The customer fee varies, according to several airports' spokesmen.

The rental car companies proposed the idea of sharing a wash/refuel facility on airport grounds to cut down shuttle time and costs, Cyr said. A shared site would reduce rental car traffic in front of the terminal and speeds customer service, Cyr said. It also keeps airport business economical and feasible for rental car companies, which contributed $2.173 million to the airport in 2008 in leases and fees, Cyr said, and that number has grown each year.

Similar facilities exist at airports in Baltimore, Md.; Cleveland, Ohio; Santa Barbara and San Jose, Calif.; and Albuquerque, N.M., to name a few. Customer fees vary. Springfield is $4.50 per day; most California airports with the facilities charge $10 per car rental.

Rental car corporations don't pay for construction of those airport-based facilities, Cyr and other airports' spokespeople said.

The 10-acre site would be owned by the airport, on airport property. The project is planned on a site about 250 yards west of the new terminal. The 11,000-square-foot facility calls for a wash/refuel building with wash bays, auto lifts and vacuums, fuel island and canopies. The project includes above-ground fuel storage and space for 240 rental cars -- twice the number of spaces now.

If all goes well, he said construction could begin by late spring and the facility could open by spring 2010.

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