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Phoenix Delays Uber, Lyft Fee Hike At Sky Harbor Airport

Phoenix officials agreed to delay implementing higher fees for rideshare companies at Sky Harbor Airport now that the Arizona Supreme Court is considering whether or not the fee hike is constitutional.

The fees, approved by the Phoenix City Council in December, were scheduled to take effect on Feb. 1. 

Following an investigation prompted by a state representative’s complaint against the city, Attorney General Mark Brnovich said Phoenix “likely” violated the Arizona Constitution. Voters in 2018 approved a constitutional amendment that bans cities and towns “from enacting any new or increased tax on services that was not already in effect on Dec. 31, 2017.”

Brnovich filed a special action Tuesday asking the Supreme Court to take up the issue. He also requested the court order Phoenix to stay the fee increase pending the court’s decision.

After a Wednesday afternoon scheduling conference with the Supreme Court, Phoenix spokeswoman Julie Watters announced that the city voluntarily agreed to delay charging the higher fee until the Supreme Court makes its decision.

The council voted 7-2 in December for a fee increase from $2.66 per trip to $4 for all rides provided to and from Sky Harbor by Uber and Lyft. The fee would gradually increase to $5 by 2024.

Phoenix officials have argued the fee is not a tax on the service, and is no different than other fees the airport charges companies that do business at Sky Harbor. 

Attorneys for Phoenix have until Feb. 18 to file arguments on the airport’s behalf with the court. The Attorney General’s Office then has until March 3 to reply. 

It’s unclear if the Supreme Court will schedule a time for oral arguments for the case. The justices could issue a ruling based only on written arguments.

Ben Giles is a senior editor at KJZZ.