Airport commission discusses expansion

Thursday, December 2, 2021

Among the topics of discussion at a meeting of the Carroll County Airport Commission on Nov. 19 were the related topics of increasing revenue and expansion.

At the heart of the discussion was the possible acquisition of several acres of land to build new hangars for lease and the possibility of restructuring a number of existing long-term, low-return hangar leases.

Airport consulting engineer Dan Clinton advised commissioners to hire a third-party specialist before attempting to acquire additional land, both to ease the process and to make sure any purchase would meet all requirements from the Federal Aviation Administration.

“I think when you want to do this, you want to hire — and the FAA will pay for it — a qualified land acquisition and relocation consultant,” Clinton said. “They take you out of dealing with the landowner or anything else like that, and they know how to do it by the book.”

Clinton backed up his advice by going over a few of the FAA’s rules for acquiring new land, citing what he described as their sometimes confusing nature.

“What I’m getting at is these rules start up and they kind of go backwards,” Clinton said. “We know what we want, generally and whoever you get to do that, they’ll tell you the rules and make it simpler for you.”

In regard to the long-term private leases, commissioners described them as a “good-old-boy deal” that has kept the airport from earning any revenue from those hangars since the 1990s, when 30-year leases were issued for $100 with a possible 10-year extension for another $10.

“We get no revenue off that,’’ commissioner Dave Teigen said. “We haven’t seen any since they’ve been built. We’re working on trying to acquire those back or wait for those things to expire.”

The commission also heard from Carroll County Clerk Connie Doss and District 11 Justice of the Peace John Howerton, who were in attendance to discuss changes to the board’s submitted bylaws, along with updates to the county ordinance regarding the commission.

According to Doss, the ordinance to establish the commission only calls for five members, not the seven currently serving, and the commission’s bylaws make no statement regarding the commissioners’ terms.

“It’s fantastic to have a copy of your bylaws, which have been duly recorded,” Doss said, “but when I was reading through them, it says that your commission is comprised of seven members, and the original ordinance, 78-16A, only allows for five. Somewhere between 1978 and 1995, that changed, because in 1995, there’s seven people on there. There’s nothing in between that amends [that ordinance] to allow for those additional two members.”

Doss called it an easy fix, saying that Howerton could sponsor an amendment to the ordinance, “just so the county is consistent with what the airport commission is doing.”

“I don’t want this to come up in like some FAA situation, for grants or something like that where you couldn’t get a specific grant or something like that,” Doss said. “What I probably would love to also have is a list of all of your terms, your start date and your end date. According to this, you all have five-year terms and you can’t serve more than two terms in a row.”

According to the commission members, that section of the bylaws needs to be amended since they were all of the belief that they were serving seven-year terms.

“When we started, our bylaws were terribly out of date,” commissioner Sandy Martin said. “We had to make a lot of modifications and I don’t think we worked through all the things we talked about.”

Doss said her meeting with the commission was the last leg of her tour through all of the county’s subordinate service districts, of which the county has several.

“All of these groups receive direct funds from the county either through assessments or tax and the airport receives a lump sum monthly to support their efforts in addition to their other sources of income,” Doss said. “That is a lot of moving parts to keep track of and keeping them updated is at least a quarterly checking through my spreadsheet.”

In other business, the commission heard from airport manager Michael Pfeifer, who delivered his monthly report.

According to Pfeifer, the airport’s October fly-in drew 20 aircraft and 40 attendees. After expenses, the airport cleared $132 and the raffle for a Butch Hanby custom-made knife — won by commission chair Chase Tresler — cleared $105.

Pfeifer also reported that he contacted Carroll Electric to have them initiate paperwork for a new power pole and a 200-amp meter base to be installed on the north fence line. The upfront cost for the project would be $720.53. The commission also approved the purchase of a hand-held brush cutter from William’s Tractor for $428.12.

Pfeifer told commissioners he submitted a closeout draw on the airport’s Corona Relief and Response Supplemental Appropriations Grant, with $13,000 deposited into the Capitol Improvement fund on Oct. 27 and $13,000 transferred from Capitol Improvement to the fuel account on the same day, bringing the balance to $61,889.05.

Pfeifer advised the commission that the airport’s fuel supply was in need of replenishment, and suggested taking advantage of off-season pricing to order a full 8,500-gallon load for $32,810. With the 7 percent local and state tax and a 20 percent profit markup, that would set the pump price at $4.96 per gallon.

Pfeifer also shared an official award notice from U.S. Rep. Steve Womack’s office concerning the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. The county airport will receive a grant for $32,000 from the fund.

Pfeifer also reported that he met with state auditor Michelle Gathright regarding the airport’s 2020 audit. No reportable findings were listed.

The commission’s next meeting is scheduled for noon on Friday, Dec. 17, at the airport.

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