County approves hangar lease

Thursday, January 20, 2011

GREENCASTLE -- A private investment in a 64,000-square-foot hangar should soon be bringing new money to the Putnam County Airport.

Putnam County Economic Development director Bill Dory recently presented the Putnam County Commissioners and Putnam County Council with the general terms of a land lease between the Putnam County Board of Airport Commissioners (BOAC) and a private investor.

With negotiations ongoing with the investor, the BOAC is not making the identity of the investor public at this time.

For the last two years the corporation has kept its jet at the airport during the summer. With the $300,000 investment in the new hangar, the jet will be housed in Putnam County year round.

Federal regulations require that private investments at publicly owned airports be on airport-owned property. This is the reason for the land lease and not an outright sale of the land.

The hangar, however, would be privately owned.

The agreed terms of the lease include an annual payment of $1,024 to the BOAC. While the low amount of the lease was questioned by some on the council, the value to the BOAC and the county comes in other areas.

"That seems like an awfully low amount for this size of hangar," councilor Dave Fuhrman said.

Dory explained federal regulations require that land parcels at an airport be leased at the same amount per square foot. The $1,024 yearly rate is consistent with the current rate of the existing privately owned building.

The BOAC is more focused on the money it will make on fuel, as 5 cents per gallon will go to the BOAC as a fuel flow fee. This will bring an estimated $3,000 to $5,000 each year to the airport.

Additionally, payment of property taxes will bring an estimated $2,300 to $4,700 annually.

"We're always trying to bring things to the aviation community, whether it's a Dixie Chopper or a Crown Equipment jet," BOAC president Mike Clodfelter said Wednesday. "For them to come in and lease a payment for the $1,000 a year plus the other money into the county -- we get a shiny, new hangar, plus a new tenant."

Council member Jay Fogle expressed similar sentiments, saying he was happy to see investment at the airport and in the county.

"$1,024 doesn't sound like much money, but in the 50 years I've lived here there have been four or five buildings built (at the airport)," Fogle said. "It's better to have a building there generating income than grass."

The agreement is a 50-year lease, which means it required county council approval. Dory also reviewed the lease with the commissioners for information purposes.

"It could bring us a lot more income into the airport," commissioner Gene Beck said.

The lessee is responsible for construction and maintenance of the building. Additionally, any future sale of the building would require BOAC approval.

In return, the BOAC agreed to build a taxiway to the private apron area at an out of pocket expense of $1,000 to $2,000 to match federal and state grants.

"We're going to bring $7,500 more income to the county from somebody else. Why should we not do that every day?" Clodfelter said.

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