Last week an editorial commentary was submitted labeling the Morgan County Airport as a “heavily subsidized” burden on the taxpayers, and a “ridiculous” use of funds for something used by a minority of the county residents. While everyone is entitled to an opinion and has a right to voice it, a little more research and thought regarding the issues will often alter one’s point of view:
The Morgan County airport is currently one of the few assets of the county (another being the County Fair Grounds) that actually contributes funds to the county coffer.
The Forest Service leases from the county the land upon which they keep a fire-fighting facility and helicopters. These resources are ready to be dispatched at a moment’s notice to fight fires - not only in other people’s backyards, but potentially our own.
The hangars located on the airport generate yearly revenue for the county. The hangar structures are owned and built by the lease holders, but the land beneath is leased by the county to the hangar owners. There are currently multiple lot leases that remain open to the public for application, and promise an increase in revenue as they are awarded.
A hangar structure with a certificate of occupancy is also assessed a yearly property tax. As additional hangars are completed on the newly awarded lot-leases, this revenue will also increase.
The combined yearly lease payments and property taxes collected by Morgan County from the airport totaled $62,476 in 2010. The ground maintenance and payroll for the airport manager totaled $18,059 in 2010. The net profit for the airport as a separate entity in 2010 was $44,417. A healthy 71% profit margin would suggest that the airport is a bit more than just “self sufficient”. It is historical fact that the airport has contributed tens-of-thousands of dollars to the County’s income cash pool almost every year for over 20 years since it was originally donated to the county by the Wilkinson family.
The Airport Today
Runway Crack Sealing
The latest airport improvement project has been the long-needed filling and sealing of growing cracks in the runway and ramp area. The Morgan Airport Association volunteered to help Joe Garfield, Airport Manager, apply the crack seal during the first week of May. The crack seal material was obtained from Crafco, a local vendor. Crafco technical representative, Scott Goodlife, was impressed with the work of Mr. Garfield and his enthusiastic volunteers and estimated that they saved the County between $15,000-20,000 in labor costs. This enthusiasm and willingness to volunteer time for the good of the airport and surrounding community is typical of airport associations around the country.
Morgan County Airport Association
The Morgan County Airport Association is a group of pilots and aviation enthusiasts who volunteer their time and vigilance to ensure airport security and safety, assist cleanup and maintenance of the airport grounds, and promote airport-community events. On June 4th, 2011, the Association is proud to be hosting a Veterans’ Fly In. Local area war veterans will be on hand to pass on their legacy and share with us the history they helped make. A pancake breakfast will be served, airport facilities open for touring, and the Heber City Wing of the Commemorative Air Force will be offering rides in their beautifully restored and PT-17 Stearman biplane and T-6 Texan, both WWII-era aircraft.
Morgan County Airport Tomorrow
The Utah State Division of Aeronautics has taken notice of the recent infrastructure improvements and the potential that Morgan County Airport offers to the National Airspace System and the local economy. The Division of Aeronautics has recently pledged to pay for 90% of future improvement projects, requiring the county to contribute only 10%. The next project under consideration is pavement for the east side ramp area. Once the east side ramp is paved, a self serve fuel island may be installed, keeping revenue from aviation fuel sales in the county and providing a minimum $0.03/gal flowage fee directly to the County, even if the island is operated by a private entity.
The airport community consists of people of all ages from children to WWII veterans. The author of this editorial is a third generation pilot. So is my lovely bride. The allure of the airport is strong with our children and their friends. Whether pilots fly for pleasure, business, or as a profession – the airport community is made up of people who not only love aviation, but love to share their enthusiasm for flight with anyone who is remotely interested. Come down to the airport on a Saturday morning and meet some of these people. An open hangar door is an invitation for a tour. Local pilots are often just waiting for an excuse to go fly their meticulously maintained aircraft – and may perhaps have an open seat to share with you. This is the way many pilots get their start in aviation. In fact, Mr. Fenstermaker, this is an open and direct invitation for you to come along for a ride. Gimme a call…
Pilot Member - Morgan County Airport Advisory Board