In reference to Mr. Scott Bachowski’s letter to the editor recently in The Alert:

He makes the statement that hangar lease fees do not cover the cost of maintaining the airport. He’s correct. They never have and never will. There’s not a public airport in the country that hangar lease fees cover the maintenance costs. If the city wanted to have lease fees cover the costs, they should buy the hangars and charge a monthly lease fee back to the occupants. If the leaseback fees were basically the same as the land lease now plus the property taxes, that would be fair. I’m going to put a figure as an average of $1,100 annually per hangar. Now that’s a guess, but I’m not far off, because I know what my fees are. Thirty-eight hangars equal $41,800. That looks to me to be more than adequate to cover the cost. But then there’s the issue of the city purchasing the hangars. I’ll put an average arbitrary figure of $40,000 each based on what mine cost. That comes to $1,520,000. A sizable investment, for sure, but quite possibly a better one than some the city has made in the past recent years.

He goes on to say that we paid 4 cents a square foot last year ($210). If that were the case, my lease would have been $105.60 and this year would be $132, not $252. I’m not sure where he’s getting these “facts.” $252 computes to .095 cents a square foot. I’d love to pay .05 cents a square foot for my lease. I’m happy to pay my fair share, but let’s keep things real. Rice Lake hangar owners pay 10 cents a square foot and Boyceville’s are an average of .035 cents a square foot or basically $100 per hangar. Neither airport has raised their fees in recent history, and there’s no reason to keep raising ours. Sooner or later, we’ll vacate and move to another more welcoming airport.

And then he comments on the runway needing to be resurfaced in the near future. That’s very true, and the cost is sizable. But he neglected to say the state of Wisconsin pays 80 percent of all projects done on our airport. We could get quite a bit of federal grant money, if the city would agree to put the airport in the federal program. That’s up to the city and public works administrator. There are some issues that need to be corrected first to do so, but overall, I believe it would be a wise thing, in my view, at least. There’s a small contingent on the airport that disagrees with me, but every airport manager I’ve talked to says they have no issues and it’s a good way to go. The monetary figures are guesstimates, but the facts are correct.

Signed, a lifelong resident, taxpayer and past business owner for 42 years.

(1) comment

SBachowski

My “facts” are accurate as detailed on the wisconsindot.gov website in a document titled “Wisconsin Airports Rates & Charges Report”. I was referred to this document by a hangar owner.

I, like you, would like to see Chetek become part of the National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems (NPIAS). However; you, as a prior Airport Manager, know better than anyone that it would’ve taken thousands of dollars to become compliant to meet the requirements of the NPIAS. According to 2010 NPIAS records the price tag of becoming compliant would have been in the $2,000,000 range of which the city would’ve had to pay about 10% of that after federal and state grants. The decision then was not to get into the federal program. Thus, we missed out to save an additional 10-15% in grant funding for the runway resurfacing project. So, the 20 percent cost share still remains on the backs of the tax-payers.

It’s difficult to compare apples to oranges. The Rice Lake airport receives an annual maintenance stipend from the feds of $150,000 and I assume Boyceville receives an annual stipend as well since they are in the NPIAS. We receive zero federal dollars. I wish we did receive an annual federal stipend.

Sounds like we have similar thoughts regarding the airport. Maybe we should all work together and try to improve our situation. Maybe the solution is to become part of the NPIAS.

Additionally, the investments made by the city over the past few years are for the good of the whole community. Even with these investments, city property taxes decreased 7.5% on average including hangars. The City Council has not raised the tax levy in three years. As these investments develop our assessed city value increases and our taxes decrease.

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