Erie County concerns delay move for Griffing

Erie, Ottawa counties don’t agree on contract terms to relocate aviation company
Andy Ouriel
Sep 8, 2013
Erie County officials continue to delay a private aviation company’s planned move to the public airport in Port Clinton.

For more than a year, Griffing Flying Services executives have tried relocating operations from their Cleveland Road facility in Sandusky to the Erie-Ottawa Regional Airport.

But concerns, primarily voiced by Erie County commissioner Bill Monaghan, have stymied the move thus far.

“The problem I have is we are spending public money on private business to help them flourish,” Monaghan said. “They’re getting a heck of a deal.”    Monaghan’s leeriness stems from what he perceives to be a questionable deal among Ottawa County commissioners, regional airport officials and Griffing executives. He said they placed certain terms into a contract — terms Erie County never agreed to.

When the official agreement came before Erie County commissioners to sign, they were shocked at the stipulations. They refused to sign the agreement.

Among the issues Erie County commissioners remain concerned about:

• A 99-year lease agreement for Griffing to operate at the public airport. Many leases Erie County signs are typically year-to-year.

• A $300,000 loan proposal, in which Ottawa County commissioners want to finance a U.S. Customs office to handle international flights. Erie County officials say a multimillion-dollar Border Patrol facility nearby can help facilitate the regional airport’s quest for international flights without paying an extra penny.

• An arrangement in which airport officials originally agreed to pay Griffing, an airport tenant renting space, a percentage of some fuel-related income once a certain amount of fuel is dispensed.

"We make our money basically by selling fuel,” Monaghan said. “But we are giving Griffing a deal on fuel. Why wouldn’t we give anyone else at that airport a deal? Why wouldn’t they want that same deal?

In response to Monaghan’s question, regional airport director Stan Gebhardt said: “That’s a good point.”

Monaghan previously threatened to end Erie County’s affiliation with the airport, given these issues.

“It sounds as if I am anti-Griffing or antiairport,” Monaghan said. “I’m all about that airport continuing to rise. We have one of the best airports in the state of Ohio. I have only been against us paying a private business.”

Before any deal with Griffing is signed, Monaghan has demanded that commissioners in Erie and Ottawa counties, as well as the regional airport board, review the documents.

“We are all for this airport,” Erie County commissioner Pat Shenigo said. “It’s a great thing for our community and a great economic development tool, but we don’t want to be stupid about spending public dollars.”

Gebhardt, who has acted as the liaison among the three entities, said he’ll continue working on a deal favorable to Erie and Ottawa counties, as well as the airport board and Griffing.

Comments

Darkhorse

Who is making deals that aren't authorized by the commissioners? Isn't the airport director responsible for allowing the commissioners to see the paperwork before signing on the dotted line? A 99 year lease is ridiculous. A lot can change in that time. No one should be signing long term leases.

Darwin's choice

" Don't want to be stupid about spending public dollars." Really, Pat?
Where do the county landfill dollars come from? How about the land purchased to build the Courthouse on?

Cowboy

Typical Griffing move, they want something for nothing! Well guess what? The airport is doing just fine without Griffing there so who is in the driver's seat here? I'd make Griffing pay more for gas! Keep your foot on this one Bill! Nice work!

Nemesis

Interesting and ironic that there's a Gadsden flag flying in front of the Griffing house next to the airport they are selling. It's sort of hypocritical given that they are moving their business from land they own to a taxpayer funded facility.

twosenseworth

This Gebhardt fellow needs to start working on a deal that is beneficial to Erie County before he continues working on a deal which is favorable, in his opinion, to all of the players. Erie County appears to be on the short end of this agreement, but at least Commissioner Monaghan is willing to halt this in its tracks until a more reasonable agreement can be presented. Thank you, Bill.

donutshopguy

Nice to see someone standing up for the taxpayers.

gramafun

why wasn't this paperwork taken care of LONG in advance of any move. Good job, Bill and nice catch. Someone tried to slip one over on the "poor country counsins" of Erie County it seems and it just didn't happen. Now who did it? Its obvious it had to be Gebhardt who seems to be running the show. Come now, did you think that one would fly? Pardon the pun. Not with the eagle hovering about. Lets get real and start this again. You move when ALL the taxpayers are satisfied and lets start with a FUNCTIONAL lease: one that is of a reasonable time, like 20 years or less. And be more functional in your gas pricing as well. Come now, Mr. Gebhardt, there are no country cousins on this side of the bridge. They all moved long ago. Heck, they even wear shoes and went to college.