December 15, 2010 Edition

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Leases discussed at airport meeting

Gloria Wilkerson
Staff Writer

Walnut Ridge Airport Commissioners discussed lease increases for hangars, work being done on the buildings vacated by Morgan Buildings and Spas, as well as upcoming projects and the airport's finances at their meeting on Monday night. It was also commission chairman Hal Lady's last meeting after serving 10 years on the commission.

"I have enjoyed serving on the commission," Lady said. "My term expires at the end of the year, and vice chairman Dan Coker will become chairman. A new vice chairman will be elected at January's meeting."

Airport Manager Mitch Whitmire informed the commission that he has completed necessary paperwork to apply for Airport Improvement Project funds from the FAA.

"The airport is authorized a certain amount of money per year by the FAA, and we have to apply for it," Walton said.

"The money will be used for infrastructure repairs such as replacing culverts (some of which have been in place since World War II) and repairs to the apron."

Whitmire also reported on repairs to the buildings recently vacated by Morgan Buildings and Spas. The buildings are being cleaned and repaired and are expected to be rented by Universal Asset Management in the near future.

Commission Chairman Hal Lady stressed the need for yearly inspections of buildings leased from the airport.

"It took 37 years for these buildings to get into the shape they were in when Morgan moved out," Lady said. "We need to check on the buildings periodically; we can't let the buildings go that long without some sort of inspection being done."

Commissioners voted to increase hangar leases by $10 per month for now. Once the airport properties become subject to property taxes, that amount may have to be increased. The board believes their prices are below those of other area airports.

The airport also rents out huts, mostly used for storage, and Whitmire told the commissioners that many windows need to be replaced and the buildings need to be sandblasted and repainted. He added that he would feel much better about raising the rent if necessary after the huts receive needed repairs.

Last year fees from the leased hangars totaled $34,000, and rental from the huts totaled $10,300.

Lady asked that the commissioners check on mini storage prices in the area and then see where they feel the lease prices should be. "The buildings we have are not new, but they are large," he said.

Whitmire told the council that he will meet with the Kelleys, owners of Allied Ag Cat, in the next couple of weeks and try to resolve some items in the lease they have been offered by the airport. He hopes the lease will be signed following the meeting.

In other business, the commission:

  • was informed by vice chairman Coker that the Lawrence County Tax Assessor will meet with them in January and explain the upcoming property taxes they will be responsible for in the future.

  • accepted the budget for 2011, which is based on the 2010 budget.

  • learned that airport employees received a $25 increase in their Christmas bonues.

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