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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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Fuel Sales Beef Up Twin County Airport Finances

With their financial picture looking better than it has in years, Twin County Airport Commission after much discussion at their regular monthly meeting Tuesday, Nov. 27 gave tentative approval to a recommendation from Manager Tony Krysiak that they spend part of the money to replace the 1967 tug used to tow airplanes to and from hangars and for other tasks around the airport.

Krysiak said the old machine is on its last legs, and argued in favor of buying a refurbished “Global” machine at a quoted price of $16,000. The Commission agreed Krysiak should prepare some specifications, seek bids and report back in December.

Most of the unanticipated profit that beefed up the bottom line resulted from fuel sales nearly double what last year’s budget had projected, Krysiak said, adding they have under budgeted that income category again. Krysiak noted they currently have a checking account balance of $124,000. The only outstanding bills are $30,000 for a load of jet fuel, $17,000 for insurance and an audit cost of $3,500, which leaves a balance of $68,800, without taking into account income that will be received between now and the end of 2012. The $30,000 appropriation from Marinette and Menominee counties should be received in January, which would allow them to spend $16,000 for the tug and have an operating balance of $82,000, if there were no additional income at all.

The Commission without dissent approved a formalized fee schedule for airport space and services, with only two slight changes from last year. Effective Jan. 1, hangar space rent will increase to $325 per month for small planes and $600 per month for large ones. All other fees will remain unchanged.

They approved a revision to the lease agreement with Enstrom that amounts to a 50 percent increase - from 8 cents to 12 cents per square foot for airport space leased by the helicopter manufacturer.

Commission President Jason Lauzer and Krysiak had met with Steve Sanders of Enstrom to negotiate the new terms. The commission had sought a larger increase, but Enstrom did not agree. He will have Menominee County Legal Advisor Dan Hass draw up the lease amendment. Enstrom has already agreed to the terms. Lauzer said the 12 cents seems fair. The money involved is not significant, he said, adding that only the per square foot fee is negotiable at this point.

The fee remains low because several times over the years the commission had missed the windows during which they could have gradually increased the rent, so it remained at earlier levels. The rest of the lease agreement will not be open to negotiation until 2018.

Commissioner Nick Lakari commented the airport and Enstrom entered into the 55 year lease with Enstrom 50 years ago, so the entire document will come due in 2018.

The Commission readily accepted the very positive financial reports. “This was an outstanding year, we did work!” declared Commissioner Jim Pearson.

Nancy Douglas, director of the Menominee Business Development Corporation and head of the Twin County Task Force working with Explorer Solutions on plans to expand use of the airport and make it self supporting, reported on their progress late in the meeting. Before that happened, the Commission voted without dissent to advise Joe and Kyla Grinsteiner that they are not interested in entering into a long term lease with them for Twin County’s large hangar, but are willing to rent space to them.

Negotiations between the Commission and the Grinsteiners have been going on for several months. They had previously described plans to start small with a banner towing service based at the Menominee airport, and expand to charter service, an airplane repair facility and eventually a pilot’s training school.

Those are basically the types of businesses that consultant Christian Perreault of Explorer Solutions has recommended as compatible with the area, and at their Oct. 16 meeting the Commission had advised the Grinsteiners to work with Perreault and asked the consultant to contact them.

Concern of the Commission was that the Grinsteiners wanted to rent part of the hangar for now, and reserve right of first refusal for the rest of the available space, which they felt could stymie the types of development they want to encourage.

Douglas reported Joe Grinsteiner has decided he does not want to work with Explorer Solutions.

“I told him we are interested in having his plane in our hangar,” Krysiak said, “but at this point we are not interested in a long term lease.”

Lakari too commented that several attempts were made to open lines of communication, “but it hasn’t been fruitful.”

Commissioner Ted Sauve explained a proposal that Twin County hire some limited term Marinette County employees experienced in carpentry to do some maintenance chores at the airport this winter. Lauzer felt the idea is worth exploring, but said the Buildings and Grounds committee should decide which projects they want to pursue.

The Enstrom lease had been discussed during a 3:30 p.m. meeting of the Executive/Finance Committee with Lauzer and Lakari present and Commissioner Dale Berman excused on account of illness. Krysiak and Linesman Jeff LaFleur were also on hand, as were a few spectators.

Their meeting included a conference call with Chip Zens of Freight Runners to try to re-open some lines of communication. “We want to find out what we can do for each other and how and when do we go forward,” Lauzer told Zens. He said they both know sitting outside is not good for planes, “I’m a pilot and I want to find a way to get your airplane in our hangar!” He said Freight Runners has been a good customer of Twin County for 25 years, and buys a lot of fuel, and there is more that could be done here.

Freight Runners contracts with UPS for air delivery and pickup services.

“It’s unfortunate what happened in the past, when Gary Anderson (Commission chair) and his henchmen got in there,” Zens said. “It was pretty insane for a while.” He said he had not spoken with Krysiak since he took over from former airport manager Tim Spreen.

Zens said they had been renting hangar space for $500 a month, and now they are paying $25 a month more to park their plane outdoors. He explained some problems of contracting with UPS, and said the most his contract price can go up is 1 percent a year, while inflation has been averaging 1.4 percent.

Lauzer assured him they are not yet ready to set a space and services price, but the purpose of the conference meeting was to build a relationship again.

“I think this commission has moved forward by leaps and bounds this year,” Lauzer said, and Zens agreed. “It was important to get rid of the people that were destroying the airport,” he said. “I’m willing to work with you guys, but we’re tied to what we can afford. Lauzer told him they are working on a set of standard fees, and Zens agreed if he was charged the same as everyone else, “I wouldn’t feel so black listed.”

Part of the issue back when the dispute arose involving Freight Runners, Anderson, Spreen and LaFleur was that LaFleur was a part-time employee of Freight Runners when he was not on duty for the airport. Anderson and Spreen objected to some issues in that relationship, which Zens said actually benefitted other airport users.

To questions from the Commission, Zens said his planes pay $25 each time they land at Twin County, generally five times a week, and his monthly fees generally run about $700. He would be in interested in a flat fee arrangement, which Lauzer felt might help everyone.


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