Erie, Ottawa counties ready to land airport agreement

Clear skies could be ahead for the contentious commissioners of Erie and Ottawa counties, as they aim to settle an ongoing funding dispute.
Andy Ouriel
Oct 15, 2013
In a recent meeting, the two sides hammered out financial details related to the Erie-Ottawa Regional Airport.

Among the terms they agreed to, but haven’t officially signed:

• Contributing $30,000 a year, wherein both counties would provide funds — for a maximum of five years — specifically for airport operations.

• Spending up to $5,000 on an audit of the airport board’s finances.

• Agreeing to a fuel agreement for Griffing Flying Service.

For months, Erie County commissioners Bill Monaghan and Pat Shenigo have questioned the airport’s budget.

A recent profit-and-loss statement shows several discrepancies, highlighted by the possible overstatement of $100,000 in expenses.

When asked about the miscalculation, Ottawa County officials and airport board members had no explanation. The airport board, appointed by the commissioners, acts independently of any government organization. The board oversees finances and day-to-day operations.

The airport’s total income was $812,000 in 2012, up from $552,000 in 2011. It receives most of its operational funds from fuel sales.

The airport board and commissioners from both counties have agreed to hire an independent auditor to determine the airport’s actual annual income and expenses last year.

For more than a year, Griffing Flying Service executives have tried relocating operations from their Cleveland Road facility in Sandusky to the Erie-Ottawa Regional Airport in Port Clinton. Griffing’s move is primarily driven by financial issues.

Monaghan and Shenigo, however, raised concerns that have delayed the move. Chief among them: Ottawa County officials and the airport board placed certain clauses into a contract to which Erie County commissioners never agreed.

The clauses included:

• A 99-year lease agreement for Griffing to operate at the public airport.

• A $300,000 loan for an on-site U.S. Customs building.

• A generous fuel rebate Griffing would receive for moving to Port Clinton.

Monaghan said Griffing is leasing space from the government airport, so the company shouldn’t receive fuel rebates.

Griffing executives said they’re bringing at least 15 pilots from Sandusky to Port Clinton, essentially injecting more income into the airport’s coffers.

After weeks of debate, commissioners finally agreed on a solution. Under a proposed 20-year lease, the deal calls for Griffing to invest substantial private dollars into the airport. In turn, they’d receive a discount on fuel after their pilots purchase a certain number of gallons.

In addition, Erie County taxpayers won’t fund a $300,000 U.S. Customs building at the site.

“We believe this proposal on fuel sales allows the airport board to benefit from increased business that the Griffing family will hopefully provide,” Shenigo said.

Griffing executives have yet to announce a final move date. They’ll pay about $30,000 a year for space.

Comments

looking around

"After their pilots purchase a certain number of gallons" They will receive a generous fuel rebate.

"Griffing executives said they’re bringing at least 15 pilots from Sandusky to Port Clinton"

So is it fuel being purchased by Griffings Flying Service for their operations? Or are they including fuel sales of private aircraft relocating to Port Clinton from Sandusky?

Aircraft operators are just like car drivers, they fill up at the station with the best price per gallon and will tanker fuel by stopping at an intermediate airport with a better price per gallon and tankering that fuel home. Why should the Griffings benefit from fuel sales of private operators? Is there a promotion for discounted fuel for all based aircraft?

If the Erie/Oattowa Airport can offer fuel rebates, they better start doing it across the board and attracting pilots from a two hundred mile radius to drop in and fuel up! Fuel prices are well monitored by various internet sites aimed at attracting the business of transient aircraft, pilots flight plan based on their ability to save money!

Centauri

"For months, Erie County commissioners Bill Monaghan and Pat Shenigo have questioned the airport’s budget."

I question the partnership of Erie County (OHIO) and the Kelleys Island Ferry. When will Erie County share in the profits and how much?

http://blog.cleveland.com/metro/...
"In Ohio, the largest grant -- $2.72 million -- went to a partnership of the Kelleys Island ferry operator and Erie County, to build a 160-foot vessel."

The Bizness

Is the new boat up in service yet?

I dont really see an issue with the county helping a local business procure a federal grant.

Capt. Ford

I'm more concerned with the idea that any local tax dollars from either Erie or Ottawa would be used for A CBP office, we all paid for that multi-million dollar center across the street already. All they had previously at Griffing,Sandusky measured 20x20 at best.

looking around

Capt. Ford I agree, forgot to mention that!

Peninsula Pundit

Hear, hear!
With that multi-million dollar gulag around the corner, all they have to do is drive one of the many,many vehicles parked there less than a mile.
If they cut through the field, they could walk there (yeah, right!)