McCOOK, Nebraska -- The Airport Advisory Commission approved a motion recommending to raise hangar rental fees at its scheduled meeting Monday afternoon at Heritage Senior Center.
The motion was made by Richard Stull and approved on a 4-1 vote. The dissenting vote came from Mike Nielsen who believed the affordable fees were "something we're doing right. Making hangars reasonable encourages people to use McCook and the city makes sales tax on fuel and maintenance expenses as a result."
City Manager Kurt Fritsch disagreed with Nielsen and said "We're not making money hand over fist on this. We need to come up with some dollars, the taxpayers are subsidizing this airport currently. It's ridiculous that an [airplane] hangar would cost less than a storage unit in town. The rest of us are paying for that."
Fritsch and city staff initially requested an across-the-board 20 percent rate increase to the hangar rental fees. Nielsen motioned to leave hangar fees at current levels but his motion died without a second.
Stull said he believed there to be a happy medium ground for the fee levels and pointed out most of the new hangar fees were still below the average when compared to other airport hangar fees in the area. Stull's motion approved new fee levels that were below the area average and reduced the other fees to that level as well.
City staff will forward the recommendation to the McCook City Council which will have the final say regarding the matter.
Recommended monthly fee amounts (previous in parenthesis);
Individual T-hangars : $36 ($30)
Standard hangar with sliding doors : $45 ($42)
Large 40' x 60' : $55 ($54)
Small hangar with bi-fold doors : $79 ($66)
Large hangar with bi-fold doors : $93 ($78)
Fire Chief Marc Harpham also updated the commission regarding the accident involving two airplanes which occurred in July. Surveillance video revealed the propeller of the spray plane hit the fuselage of the smaller plane, spraying the area with fuel which quickly burst into a fireball. Harpham said it was amazing the pilot of the spray plane was able to come out of it with only the injuries he did. The pilot was transported to a burn center following the accident but was back home in a relatively short period of time, according to Harpham.
"The fortunate things is they were seconds away from having people in the smaller plane," said Harpham who was also happy with the three minute response time his emergency services personnel had regarding the call.
Richard Stull was also approved to build a new 80' x 80' private hangar at the airport and Public Works Director Kyle Potthoff told the group they were still awaiting word regarding the wildlife assessment of the airport. The completion of the assessment by the Federal Aviation Administration will be followed by a recommendation whether or not to build a new fence at the airport designed specifically to keep wildlife off the runway.
The group also discussed the possibility of a remote entry system for the security gate or a sensor for those wishing to exit the airport. City staff will look into costs and options going forward.