The Covington City Council approved Dixie Jet Services’ proposal to change ground lease rates at the Covington Municipal Airport.
Any individual or business that leases land, generally for hangars, at the Covington airport pays a monthly rate for that land. According to Dixie Jet’s Manager Rusty Anglin, the company had been charging between 4 cents and 8 cents per square foot of land per month.
On Dec. 21 the council approved Dixie Jet’s proposal to change that rate to a flat fee of 5 cents per square foot for all lessees. In addition, the council approved Dixie Jet’s request to begin charging tenants for the stormwater fees that Dixie Jet pays to the city. The stormwater cost will be .034 cents per square foot. The stormwater cost will only be applied to the actual square footage of the hangars not the surrounding driveways.
At the Dec. 7 council meeting, several airport tenants expressed concern about the increasing rate, for some, as well as proposed changes to the rules and regulations that tenants sign as part of their lease.
The changes will only go into affect when tenants sign new leases. Some tenants expressed concern about the change in lease rates, an increase for some, because they said Dixie Jet does not provide any services for that money, just land.
Tenant Lance Flynn, who is also the chairman of the Airport Advisory Committee, said there was no basis for the increase because there was no change in service.
Other tenants also expressed concern about the language of some rules included in the new contracts.
A letter to the council from William Bailey Jr., a pilot and co-owner of a hangar, said the rules and regulations were confusing, overly broad and too diverse from regulations at other airports.
He said regulations regarding discharging and disposal of pollutants
and other materials were already covered under the law and did not need separate, more stringent regulations.
Bailey also expressed concern about rules prohibiting the sale of food or beverages, flight instruction and other materials. He said the rules should be amended to say those items and services cannot be sold for profit.
Jeff Dodson, who co-owns the hangar with Bailey, attended the Dec. 7 meeting and said he was concerned that the new leases had limits of five years. Such a short lease would make it much more difficult for him to sell his hangar.
At the meeting, the city council determined that it could not vote on the regulations, because those were outside of the council’s jurisdiction. However, at the Dec. 21, City Manager Steve Horton, who is also the airport manager, and some tenants said some of the rules had been rewritten and most disagreements ironed out.
The council did table the lease rate change until the Dec. 21, because some council members wanted to compare the proposed rate change to other airports. The city’s facilities maintenance manager did more research and determined that some other airports charge similar rates without offering any additional services.
The council approved the lease change and the stormwater fee.
In related news, Transportation Manager Billy Skinner said the airport was still closed but was expected to be open by next Wednesday.
The rainy and cold temperatures have made it difficult to pour asphalt and concrete. Skinner said the runway reconstruction is complete, but the tarmac still has to be paved.