Durings its Tuesday afternoon meeting, the Cartersville-Bartow County Airport Authority met and discussed its leasing rates with tenants including Aerodrome, Lanny Heilman, C-Jay Aviation, Phoenix Air and RMZ. The authority reviewed rates at Calhoun Airport and McCollum Airport in Cobb County. Although the authority touched on Paulding County Airport rates, Chairman Robert Hite said he did not get complete information on the airport’s hangars. Cartersville Assistant City Manager Dan Porta said he would get that information.
Heilman said he performed his own research into similarly sized airports across the nation.
“I’ve kind of done research nationwide on what the rents are everywhere from Montana to Washington to Texas. Then I wanted to get somewhere close, which I thought would be equal. I can’t find an airport that’s more equal to us than Calhoun. ... [We] provide basically the same service,” he said.
Calhoun charges $185 to $230 per month for hangars, depending on the type, according to a memo from Porta. Calhoun’s ground lease, which typically runs for 30 years according to the document, is 5 cents for the first five years. After those first five years, the rate increases by 1 cent per month every five years. McCollum charges $400 per month for a 3,600 square-foot-hangar per single-engine plane, according to the memo. Ground lease numbers for McCollum were not provided.
While discussing the size of the hangars at the airport, Heilman said he was paying 71 cents, and another business was paying approximately 51 cents per square foot.
Authority member Hans Lutjens said he liked the idea of moving to a square footage-based lease agreement.
“I think what we should do is come up with square footage. I mean, I can’t talk here roughly, I mean, just looking at it we’re probably 30 percent closer to Atlanta if you look at it, counting if we’re facing that way or not. I don’t know if that’s — if the idea’s actually to sign something today or maybe authorize the authority to look into a square foot method and to extend this deal,” he said.
Heilman countered, saying the airport’s proximity to Atlanta did not justify any premium on the lease rates.
“Most of these airports that you know — you say we’re close to Atlanta, that’s no advantage to us. It’s always based on what the services are. If you’ve got commercial aircraft storage, if you’ve got avionics measurements ... it’s the services that go along with the higher rates,” Heilman said.
Following additional debate of hangar sizes and consideration of a square footage-based lease, Lutjens motioned to move the talks to a called meeting.
“What my suggestion would be is to defer this to a called meeting, go off the square foot method that works, that’s in line. At that point we can authorize Bob to negotiate each lease based on square footage,” he said.
The motion was passed. Hite asked the business representatives what length of lease they would prefer. Opinions ranged from five to 10 years. Authority Attorney Keith Lovell said any new leasing agreement would be offered to all businesses.
“By each lease, even leases that haven’t expired, we will offer those individuals the right to go to the new formula,” he said.
Toward the end of the meeting Lutjens raised the question of surveying the airport to see where additional hangars could be built. He believed it would be a good idea to survey both the east and west side of the airport.
“If we can identify actual lots that are usable today and what those sizes are, we can then ... be able to offer that to someone that may want to construct a hangar on the field rather than just saying, ‘Well, we don’t know where we have the [property].’ We’ll actually have something on paper that shows ... lend/lease lots on the area,” he said.
Hite, however, thought it would be a waste of time and money to survey the east side, as any hangars there could interfere with the airport’s proposed master plan, and is not allowed under Federal Aviation Administration regulations without modifying the runway. The authority ultimately approved Lutjens surveying the west side only.
In other business the authority:
• heard an update on the localizer, which Hite said is expected to arrive Jan. 23 and may be installed Jan. 27, weather permitting.
• approved a $10,200 contract to cut down trees under three agreements.
• heard an update on 90 feet of fencing damaged in December after a single-car wreck.
• discussed improving the airport’s communications equipment with a more powerful radio.